Don and I trained intensively for the arrival of the SpaceX’s commercial space ferry Dragon. This will be the first time that Dragon docks with the Space Station. This is a new and exciting occasion for SpaceX, NASA and the crew. We practice grabbing the ferry: Don flies the ISS robot arm while I send commands to Dragon to keep it from moving (free drift). At other times we practice the second part of the procedure: docking. I move Dragon to the ISS with the robotic arm and Don operates the docking mechanism. We practiced many of these so-called ‘ grapples’, the moment when the robot arm grasps the cargo ship. To complete our training we practiced emergency scenarios such as grabbing the ferry incorrectly or we pretend the robotic arm control system malfunctions and we need to quickly get to the back-up panel in the laboratory. Nine times out of ten something goes wrong during training. In reality everything almost always goes well. 

I inspect hardware that we need to dock Dragon. We installed a remote control in the European observatory module Cupola as we have a good

view of the Space Station and the ferry from there. It will undoubtedly be a beautiful sight to see Dragon flying towards us…

Every now and again we send videos of the American part of ISS to health and safety inspectors on Earth. All corners, nooks and racks are filmed. Flight control looks at the film to assure that all safety procedures are respected. We often move things around on the ISS as we need room to work. But we must avoid placing things in front of ‘ fireports’ or ventilation fans. Cables that cannot be detach quickly must not run through hatches in case of a leak and a hatch needs to be closed. Ground control asked us a few questions about our ‘setup’ and we changed a few things. Safety comes first.

I also collected water samples. We need to do this every so often. It is a complicated procedure requiring different bags, filters and injection needles. This is the third time I have taken water samples but I still read through the procedure so as to avoid making mistakes. I do many such tasks. I take samples of air quality, formaldehyde

, oxygen, CO2 and bacterial or fungal growth on many surfaces. Everything is recorded and sent to ground control. We live in a closed system and we cannot afford any infections or contaminated water and air. Opening a window to air things out or flushing the plumbing with water is not an option…