Dale Cupido - February 04, 2002: Payloads - Karl and I left Star City at about 9h00 am, starting our journey towards Korolev. Today was D-Day for the handover of Mark's Payload, to be transported on the Progress (scheduled for the 28th of February 2002) - of course we did not know what to expect.
Upon arrival, about 10 Russian Payload Specialists greeted us, all waiting in anticipation for Mark's payload. We had a round of introductions; and then the hard discussions started.
We presented Mark's full personal payload consisting of SA sporting clothing (oh, yes, congratulations to all our sporting heroes!! What a fab weekend for SA Sports!! Bafana Bafana, you're still "Our Boys"), SA National Flags, HIV/AIDS Letters (beaded HIV/AIDS ribbons) and our very own Madiba shirt!
The Russian specialists raised concerns regarding the safety aspects of our payload, ranging from electrical equipment to clothing. Our electronic equipment i.e. IBM Laptops and Nikon D1X camera, with all accessories got the green light. thanks to our resident techie, Karl Prince. We basically purchased equipment already certified for use on the ISS.
However, being concerned with the safety and well being of the ISS crew, we were informed that all clothing and other payload goodies like the beaded HIV/AIDS Ribbons had to go through rigorous toxic and flammable testing.
We immediately jumped on the phone to our faithful support team, Interactive Africa in Cape Town, to send back-ups of all clothing and consumables. Other equipment i.e. Mark's headlight, ear mufflers, earphones and gifts for the main crew, consisting of an African beaded doll and bottle opener, unfortunately did not crack the nod - as usual, the Russians came to our rescue with alternatives for the earphones and mufflers!
After lunch, we presented one of the South African Educational experiments, the Astrophysics Experiment. I was down on bended knee to get the go-ahead for the experiment, as it will play a fundamental role in education! Issues were raised regarding the safety feasibility of the proposed equipment, but with the assistance of our RSC Energia specialists we are going to try and make it happen!! Energia will present modifications to the proposed equipment that will not affect the procedures and results.
After our meeting, which lasted from 10h00 till 16h00, we headed into the busy streets of Moscow in search of a Russian/English Dictionary and a few red pens.
On the other side of Moscow, Dr Daniel Barry finally managed to get his Kazakhstan Visa, to continue his search for sheep, needed for the Embryo and Stem Cell Development Experiment.
We've scheduled another meeting tomorrow; starting at the same time. Karl will continue purchasing extra equipment and will also be making a few alterations, while I will address all outstanding issues regarding the payload with our Russian specialists. Ravi Naidoo and Barak Geffen will join in Moscow as of tomorrow, only for the week though.
Well, that's my story for now. We have a quite a few deliverables for tomorrow?s meeting? for example, labelling about 45 DV Cassettes. As the saying goes "The Lord Loves the Working Man"