Thursday, October 4, 2007

Launch – 8 days and counting



After being up for 10 hours, with our supplies and living monocyte cells, we are still waiting at Sheremetyevo, the Moscow airport for our biological samples to clear customs. The time drags on, each call says “it will only be another 30 minutes”. Daylight darkens into sunset and then to night and we are still waiting. Meanwhile the monocytes are getting cold, the frozen fetal calf and other supplies are warming up all approaching ambient temperature together.
Finally, at 9:30PM the final luggage is cleared, without the help of the ESA-Moscow customs specialist, Igor, we would still be in Customs. Now we are on our way to the Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow where our colleague has waited for the same amount of time for us to come to the lab. It is now 10PM, we have not eaten today but the cells must be taken care of first. We wheel our 3 suitcases into the lab and open them up and start working, one of us in the tissue culture biological hood, one at the microscope counting cells and one setting up in the outer lab. Our driver, Valarey sent by the ESA-Moscow office is also waiting outside for us to finish so he can take us to the Sovietsky. All of our colleagues here are making it possible for us to complete this experiment. Dr. Ludmila Buravkova, our host at the IBMP had a colleague stay late and come in early to the laboratory and ESA has sent their IBMP customs expert to help us at the airport, a driver and a van. We have been lucky to work with these great people.