The news came that I will be going back home later than planned. Space travel can be unpredictable in this way. A leak was found on the Sojuz capsule that was supposed to ferry the Expedition 31 crew up here. So the next Sojuz in line is being prepared quickly. It will not be ready before mid-march so the launch has been delayed by two months. This will delay landing for Dan, Anton and Anatoly. This also has consequences for myself, Don and Oleg. The delay is now six weeks and the official landing date is set for 1 July. This means that I will miss my mother’s and children’s birthdays this year as well as the graduation ceremony of my eldest daughter. And our family holiday will have to be cancelled. On the other hand I have more time to live and work up here. My days are fully packed and I am happy with any extra free time I can get……

Hero status
The Progress space ferry brought up some nice presents for me as well as the usual supplies. One of these is a Fokke & Sukke t-shirt. Initially I did not realise that the t-shirt has a unique drawing made by Jean-Marc van Tol on request by my wife Helen. It is great. The joke is: “I went to space and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.” Not many people can claim that of course… I am continuously amazed by how many people are following my mission. Songs have been dedicated to me by Marillion and I have received video messages from a member of Pink Floyd as well as from Harry Sacksioni. Last week Helen went to receive in my name the ships horn from the decommissioned Dutch navy ship Southern Cross. I immediately took a

picture of the star sign. This is a very special occasion and I feel very honoured.

Some people put me on a pedestal as a hero and that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. Especially when young colleagues in the space industry look up to me. I am only doing my job. I am part of a large team, with many people working back on Earth. I just try to perform as best as I can and try not to make any mistakes. Just like everyone else does. But I do understand, I used to feel the same. It is of course magical to float around and to live and work in space and to observe Earth and the wonders of the universe.