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03—04—2022

Approaching Launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station / Eytan Stibbe



Greetings from quarantine in Florida,


Today, Sunday, we were informed our launch was being postponed by one extra day. Our new date – April 8. We understand the complexities of coordinating the feverish work being done around the launches, besides the landings from space, and we accept the delay. As far as we are concerned, we have been given one extra day to review and prepare for carrying out the work plan and one extra day to do simulations and one extra day to prepare for emergency scenarios we might encounter, so that if push comes to shove, we’ll feel “comfortable” with whichever situation may arise. Overall we are a well-rounded-out team, we are feeling good and we even find time to play.


In principle, each one of us is expected to be independent, capable of operating all of the tools on the Space Station by ourselves. Experiments which require help and cooperation between the different astronauts have already been planned and synchronized. We’re all trying to leave nothing to chance. The work plan is detailed down to the level of what we are going to do every quarter of an hour and even down to single minute levels. We are transparent one to the other and our Excel table contains all the details and is synchronized with the workplans of all our companions in the Station.

Quarantine is strictly observed. Visitors are required to come in for a thorough mask inspection, a Coronavirus test and we sit outside at least 3 meters apart. Our schedule here in quarantine is designed to be similar to that we’ll have on the Station. Awhile ago we shifted our sleep hours to match them to the UTC - London time[1], according to which the Station operates. This means getting up at 3-4 in the morning (Florida time). Practice and Adapt.





The excitement at the "Rakia" site at the Check Point offices in Tel Aviv is flooding in to me here as well. I see pictures, videos, I talk to the Rakia team during the preparations and while they host hundreds of people per day. The visitor center is a special space, with its design having been inspired by the Rakia mission. It is intended to make this highly complicated mission accessible to the general public. Every one of the five sectors in the site presents a different aspect of the mission, anything from the International Space Station area, the Rakia Mission Quarter, the scientific Experimentation Zone, the Living Space in the International Space Station, and the Inspiration Center, which to me reflects the message I dream and hope to spread, particularly among the boys and girls of our younger generation: “No dream is a dream too far”.





A few days ago the two Russian cosmonauts, who had completed their mission at the Station, returned to Earth. With them, in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, American astronaut Mark Vande Hei, landed in Kazakhstan after having stayed in space for 355 days! A few days before that a crew of three cosmonauts docked at the Station. So as you can see - in space there is close collaboration and the same limited resources are shared by all. The cooperation is excellent and I am already looking forward to opening the hatch and to the welcome we are going to receive and of course to our first dinner together with all the astronauts that will be on the International Space Station at that time. We are going to be 11 altogether.


So that’s it. On Friday, assuming there will be no more changes, we are going to arrive at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station[2] dressed in our space suits, we are going to ascend in the elevator, climb the stairs, enter our Dragon spacecraft, take up our positions and await the countdown.


Wish me luck,

Yours, Eytan



[1] UTC: Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) Has replace the term GMT, which stands for Greenwich Mean Time, which is located along Longitude 0.

[2] CCAFS - Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is the United States’ main launch site. It belongs to the Space Command of the US Air Force. The Station is located on the East Coast of the United States, at Cape Canaveral in the State of Florida, southeast of the NASA Kennedy Space Center, which is on the nearby island of Merritt Island. Bridges connect between the two bases. The port has four active launch pads and a 3-km-long landing strip, which is used by cargo planes which usually transport satellite and missile parts.




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