Monday 1/19/98

We left the hotel at 8:30 in a little Japanese van. Alexander the interpreter was with us. The roads were mostly clear of snow in town, but some roads further out had some snow. The heaviest flow of traffic was coming into town. There were three lanes each way with no divider or median. Several times people from the oncoming lanes drove on the outbound inner lane and our driver moved further to the right to miss them. However, the travel wasn't too bad considering the weather. Mr. Abramov appeared soon after we arrived. He had not expected us so soon. Gennady came in a little later, then Evegeny. (A 'test leader' and a 'test director'? were there too. I learned the names of all of them later.) Someone came and explained that lunch would be $7.00, not $5.00. We stopped our meeting about 12:30 and moved out of the room so that the lunch could be set out in the meeting room because the regular dining hall was being remodeled. Ladies brought crab and corn kernel salad, cheese slices, bread, and carbonated water. We thought that that was going to be the meal and were eating second helpings of the delicious crab salad when they brought fish soup -joking that that was all they had in the kitchen. The soup consisted of thin potato slices, carrot slices, fish slices, and spices. The main course was baked fish with mashed potatoes and English peas. Finally we had tea or coffee and cookies.

We started back to the hotel at about 4:45 and arrived by 6:00. The maid had not taken the $2.50 in rubles bills although she had taken the $2.00 U.S. the previous day.

Tuesday 1/20/98

Raul by Spacecraft Display We had about the same schedule on Tuesday. We discussed the test procedure then toured their museum. The system they used for their first EVA was a surprise to me. (They used an INFLATABLE airlock! Click the link.) All of the displays were interesting. They produce a great variety of products. We went back to the meeting room for lunch. They served us cabbage slaw with a vinegar type dressing; then borsht (potato soup flavored with beets?); then crapes with ground meat filling; and finally tea, coffee, and cookies again. After lunch we toured their vacuum chamber facility.

It didn't snow much that day, so the streets were clearer when we drove back. Some blue sky and the sun were visible at noon, but there was a heavy overcast by 4:00. Traffic was like that on Loop 610 near the Galleria in Houston; lots of pedestrians crossing and autos trying to make left turns.

Starlight Grill Raul and I were going to go to McDonald's that evening, but when I got to the lobby, I found that the girls had asked him to go with them, Joey, and Edgar to the Starlight Grill again, so we went with them. We traveled through two subway stops, then crossed over the subway tracks and went on one more stop. We turned left after leaving that station and walked about half a block. The Grill was in a park on the left. We had to wait about 30 minutes to get a booth. I had a cheeseburger with fries and a coke. We left the Mira station by a different exit on our return trip.

I watched part of a Russian film on TV. The scene 'cuts' were a little rough. In the close-up view the actors were standing near each other, but in the long shot, they were several feet apart.

Wednesday 1/21/98

It was Baptismal Day commemorating the day that all of Moscow (or some region around there) were forced to be baptized into the Eastern Orthodox Christian religion. I don't think it was a work holiday, but I don't have any notes for a Wednesday trip to Zvezda.

Red Square at Night That night several of us went to Red Square. A group of Communist Party members were parading out of the Square as we started in. We went on to Gorky Park, but couldn't see much at night and weren't too sure about the advisability of hanging around there. We also saw the new statue in the Moscow River. I've forgotten now, but I think it commemorated Peter the Great. The statue was all out of proportion; there was an oversize statue of Peter the Great (?) on the deck of a ship which was riding over some waves with small ship statues in the waves. I think that many of the citizens were unhappy with the way the statue turned out.

Scene from the Subway Two college-age women were playing classical violin music in the subway station and a little girl with a sign hanging around her neck walked silently through each car on the subway train. At another time we saw an older woman holding a Siamese cat that was wrapped up like a baby with only its face showing.

Thursday 1/22/98

Gennady I don't have notes for the actual test, but click the thumbnail to see photos of the chamber, space suit, test subject in his water-cooled underwear, and the test control panels.

I worked on the test schedule. Joey and Abramov worked on the "protocol." Lunch was delayed until 3:00 and then to 4:00 so that all the Zvezda personnel could be there.

At the farewell meal
The Russian side of the table.
These photos were taken in the room where we met each day. We were also served lunch here. These photos were taken after the successful demonstration that the space suit returned from Mir and refurbished by Zvezda could operate at vacuum conditions.

They served pickled herring, which was not to my taste and some pickled (salted) cucumber soup, which was good. (I think we asked for the crab salad again. They usually gave us choices for the next day's menu.) I was unsure about the toasts since I don't 'drink', but to be diplomatic, I tried a sip of wine, but it wasn't too good. It might have been great wine for all I know. Then I found out that I could substitute water and they didn't care.

At the farewell meal
The U.S. side of the table.
Alexander, the interpreter was a pretty sharp guy and of course Dr. Abramov was. For example, when asked how they were sure that the 'negative pressure' relief valve had not actuated during the chamber repressurization, Dr. Abramov immediately pointed out that there would have been an increase in nitrogen in the suit. They explained that Gennady, who was the test subject, had used the Oxygen Injector to maintain a positive suit pressure even though the test procedure did not call for its use. But they went to great lengths to assure us that he only did as directed during tests although as a suit systems designer and as an experienced test subject, he knew all the required operations by memory. (Our policy was to have the test director approve and record any change to the procedure before any action was taken, unless it was of an emergency nature.)

At the farewell meal
From the end of the table.
Raul, the youngest member of our team, gave the best toast. He commented on the 'old hands,' referring to me and the older Russians, and the successes we had had working separately over the past 40 years and toasted to an even greater future success as we work together on the International Space Station. Our joint suit test later back in the U.S. in 1999 was a complete success. More about it later on another page.

Added 1-1-2013 - I just found this video of a young women donning an Orlan spacesuit and going through some of the exercises at Zvezda. The black haired young man on the extreme right of the photo above has a prominent place in this video. He's older and grayer now. I'm glad to see that he is still working there. The Russian word for "spacesuit" is pronounced "skah - fon - dra." The word is used often in this video.

PAGE ONE - Flight to Moscow by charter jet. Visit to the famous open-air market. Red Square and St. Basil in the snow. Kremlin tour. The new mall. Currency exchange, a 500 ruble note, and a glass crystal egg.
PAGE TWO The week a Zvezda (Star) - Zvezda designs, tests, and manufactures space suits, life support systems, and aircraft ejection seats. We went to their plant on the outskirts of Moscow, toured their museum, and observed the manned vacuum chamber test. We made a night visit to Red Square and another subway trip to the Starlight Diner.
ZVEZDA SPACE MUSEUM - Several photos of the displays with commentary. Zvezda built the capsule and life support system for the first dogs in space. There was a big display about that. All the early space suits were diplayed. The spacecraft and airlock from which the world's fist EVA was made was on display.
Space Suit Test at Zvezda - The whole purpose for the trip was to observe an actual manned test of the refurbished Orlan spacesuit that was brought back from the Mir by the Shuttle. These photos show the vacuum chamber (vac-camera), the control consoles, the Orlan suit suspended in the chamber, and Gennady, the expert suit engineer and test subject.
Jemma Mitchell's MOSCOW PHOTOS - Moscow in summer. Red Square, St. Basil, GUM, Kremlin, Lennin's Tomb, Views of the Kremlin from across the Moscow River.
Cycling Moscow to St. Petersburg - This is a really fun travel article. Some great photos around Moscow and out in rural areas. Photos of those who participated in the trip organized by Russian families and promoted on the web. The photos and story get better page after page. Seven great pages in all.
Another MOSCOW Journal - Journal and photos of a man who visited three months after my visit. There are photos of many buildings and some fine artwork from the subway. There is a great photo of one of the Patriotic Sculptures in the subway. It depicts a sitting woman with a rifle. I think I saw it during my subway travels. Part 2 has some copies of paintings from the nineteenth century and photos from the subways.
Marina's Moscow - A young woman of Moscow displays travel photos and interesting information about Moscow.


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Re-posted: 1/2/03