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Flight School: Back to Blog!

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Most New Year's resolutions begin on New Year's Day, but there's no real completion date, and the resolutions are usually vague. I prefer to make my resolutions about what I will accomplish before New Year's, even though some years I have to stretch it to December 32 or even later.

This year, my resolution is to get into the habit of writing a blog, 5 days a week, no matter what. Somehow I manage to find 90 minutes to swim every day and usually 10 to 15 for Flickr, so half an hour should be manageable. I'm sitting here in Star City, training to be a cosmonaut, and I was sure I would have the time after classes every day from 9 to 6. Night life around here is, to put it kindly, limited. So far I have been filling it up somehow, but now's the time to get serious.

I hope to write a book at least loosely based on this training experience, and I will bless myself later for having recorded the details now.

And as professor Larin said just last week - he's the most philosophical of my teachers - "Next week you will be a different person from what you are today, and by [the launch on 25] March you will be still a different person. And afterwards, you will be yet another person."

Indeed, that's the idea. This training is far more than just learning about the Russian Soyuz space craft; it's also an initiation into the Russian system from inside, as well as space travel from inside. It's a test of my temperament as well as my skills.

After all, I'm an American, a fan of Robert Kennedy's famous remark: "Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not." I'm always asking why, or occasionally, "Why don't they do it this way instead?" The answer is almost always, "We have always done it this way, and it's reliable."

And in fact, Kennedy, well, borrowed it from an obscure play by George Bernard Shaw. The lines were spoken by a serpent to a woman named Eve.

So call me Eve. I want to learn everything they can teach me, and understand it. I'm learning about life support systems, pressure variations, radio systems, amperes-volts-and-watts (they're different things?!?), safety parachutes and the like. I'm learning to get in and out of a space suit properly, and I want to be good enough to be a help rather than a hindrance to the crew. I would love to be able to fly on the Soyuz, but even if I don't, I will have a solid understanding of how everything works.

Nonetheless, when it's all over, I want to bite the apple and become an American again, and help create the why-not part, as an investor in private space travel.

Okay, half-hour's over. Tomorrow and the next day and the next, specifics about such things as learning space Russian, the food, the pool, the people, the space suit...