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Kisses for Fuglesang as Shuttle lift-off looms

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15:02 CET+01:00

”Kiss and bye,” said Lisa Fuglesang.

“Kiss,” answered her husband, Christer through the speakers, from the crew accommodation quarters.

The immediate family, friends, old school comrades, representatives from the space industry and European Space Agency and a large press corps, are in Florida to closely follow the adventure.

Maud Olofsson, Sweden's Minister for Enterprise and Energy, promised to keep her fingers crossed.

Wednesday was the goodbye day. Only the closest family members received permission from NASA to wave the astronauts goodbye, who are all in quarantine at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to avoid any infection risks.

At ESA's cocktail party were Christer's two daughters, Denise, 17 years old and Malin Fuglesang, 20 years old, dressed up to the nines. They told TT how they felt before the launch.

“It feels good. The family really hopes that this time he will be on his way.”

How was it to wave goodbye to your father?

“It was very fun, but it felt a bit weird not being able to talk to him. But now it feels that it really will happen. It is really time. But it all depends on the weather, so we will just have to wait and see,” said Denise.

Denise also told TT that Rutger Fuglesang, the youngest of Fuglesang's children, asked his father to sing the drinking-song “Helan går” as he waved goodbye. The Swede squeezed in the song, for the rest of the crew's contentment. One of the American relatives wondered if the song was the Swedish National Anthem.

Denise is now studying in the north of Texas while Malin chose to study at the Swedish School of Economics.

“I'm drawn towards social studies. But I also think that space exploration is an important issue,” said Malin.

They will stay in Florida until their father is off, even if the launch is postponed, which is possible because of the weather.

The most anticipated moment came when Christer Fuglesang called from a building in the Kennedy Space Centre, where the crew is currently staying.

“I feel good and am looking forward to the launch tomorrow,” said a confident Christer.

Many representatives from the space industry and agencies exchanged words with the astronaut. He was asked whether he could calm down all of those in the room, who were probably more nervous than him.

“The space shuttle is in very good shape and I don't think there is anything to worry about,” he answered.

Maud Olofsson wondered about the moose meat he would treat his fellow astronauts to. Olofsson, together with Lars Leijonborg, the Minister of Education, asked him to promise that he would come to Sweden and inspire the children to study science.

“I will do my best. It is an important issue,” said particle physicist Christer, who will probably come to Stockholm in February.

Leijonborg and Olofsson wished the astronaut good luck.

“I have a hunch you will be the ‘Swede of the Year', said Leijonborg.

Lastly, it was Lisa Fuglesang's turn again:

“Hello.”

“Hello.”

“It has only been two hours since we spoke, so I don't know what to say,” joked Lisa.

“Well, than I can tell you that during this time, I was up in the space shuttle. We checked if the cables and other things were the way we wanted them; a small peak at the shuttle. Everything is looking good.”

“And what will you do now?”

“We will have a crew meeting in five minutes and go over the first day in the space shuttle. It will be very hectic from the moment we go on the track until the moment we go to sleep six hours later,” explained Christer.

“And then you will drink Billy O's (the shuttle's pilot) whisky,” asked Lisa, making the rest of the crew laugh.

“Yes, but not tomorrow.”

“Okay. Kisses. Bye.”

”Okay. Kisses.”

All those present at the party started clapping and a young woman raised her glass and said:

“Cheers, Christer!”

The Discovery mission is due to lift off at around 3.30am Swedish time on Friday.

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