Vittori visits MAKS 2005
Friday 19 August was dedicated to human spaceflight and exploration at MAKS 2005, the biennial Russian International Aviation and Space Salon held in Zhukovsky, close to Moscow. ESA marked the day by holding a number of events in its display area.
Alan Thirkettle, head of the ESA’s Human Spaceflight Development Department, made a presentation on European-Russian cooperation on the International Space Station (ISS) and talked about future programmes, while ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori told the audience about his visit to the ISS in April this year.
Vittori joined the ISS Expedition crew 11 as Flight Engineer onboard the Soyuz TMA-6 spacecraft bound for the ISS. During his eight-day stay on board the ISS he carried out 22 on-orbit experiments, many developed by Italian researchers and built by Italian industry and research institutions. Scientists from Denmark, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, the USA and ESA also took part in the Eneide mission, which was co-sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Defence and the Region of Lazio, under an agreement between ESA and the Federal Space Agency.
Together with the ISS Expedition 10 crew, who were returning to Earth after their six-month stay on the ISS, Vittori returned to Earth on 25 April. This time as Flight Engineer on the Soyuz TMA-5 that had been ‘parked’ next to the ISS as an emergency return vehicle or lifeboat for the ISS crew. Its place has now been taken by the Soyuz TMA-6 that will remain at the ISS with the Expedition 11 crew until October 2005. With the successful completion of the Eneide mission, European astronauts have now flown in all six Soyuz TMA spacecraft.
Visit to Clipper
After the presentations, Alan Thirkettle and Roberto Vittori were invited by the President of RKK Energia, Nikolai Sevastyanov, to visit the Clipper mockup where Mr Sevastyanov briefed them on the development and the prospects for this new space transportation system. Vittori was able to sit in the commander’s seat of Clipper while a Russian instructor gave him a short familiarisation briefing on the ship’s controls.
Later in the day Vittori, who is still a member of the Italian Frecce Tricolori aerobatics team, flew an MB 339 trainer jet in a colourful show presented by the world-famous Italian pilots in the sky over Zhukovsky.
“This is the second time that I have visited Zhukovsky,” said Vittori. “The first time was exactly one year ago when I flew from Italy to Moscow with the Frecce Tricolore to take part in an international meeting of aerobatics team. At that time I was just starting preparations for the Eneide mission.”
During his presentation Vittori said he welcomed the opportunity to share with those present his experiences as part of the Eneide mission. “I would like to underline,” he went on to say, “the professionalism of everybody at ESA who worked on the Eneide mission and all those working for the Federal Space Agency and Energia, not forgetting all the Italian partners present today at the MAKS 2005 air show.”