A barrage of questions for André Kuipers during web chat

André Kuipers during his training at Star City
15 March 2004

His favourite colour is green; his favourite food is endive with mashed potatoes. The things he will miss most in space are his family and a hot shower. Also when he was six, he was injured when his foot was trapped between the spokes of a bicycle. During a chat session last Tuesday, André Kuipers answered hundreds of questions from children all over the Netherlands.

The chat session, held with over thirty different libraries in the Netherlands, was a great success. In the space of an hour, thousands of questions scrolled over Kuipers’ computer screen. The Dutch astronaut answered as many of them as possible from an office at Star City, the cosmonaut-training centre near Moscow. “Unfortunately, I could not answer all of the thousands of questions; there was just not enough time for that. But I hope that everyone gained something from the answers that I gave.”

From these answers, we learn that Kuipers can also exchange email from the International Space Station, but only with people who have received prior permission. There is also a telephone link via the Internet. Telephone conversations have to be brief, because his daily routine is packed with scientific experimentation, noting observations and doing everyday things such as sleeping and eating.

Kuipers concluded by saying: “I want to say thank you to everyone for wishing me good luck. When I return from space, we will have another chat session. Hopefully, I will be able to answer even more questions and tell you from first-hand experience what it is like to live and work in the Space Station.”

As shown by a small sample from the barrage of questions that bombarded André Kuipers, many children are avidly following the progress of the DELTA Mission.

Max: How do you go to the toilet?
André Kuipers: We use a sort of vacuum cleaner that sucks everything in.

Kevin: What is your favourite food?
André Kuipers: Endive mixed with mashed potatoes.

Alena: Is there anything you dream of doing one day?
André Kuipers: I am already doing it!

Marie-Rose: Do you wash your face?
André Kuipers: Yes, with wet cloths. Unfortunately, we do not have a shower.

Sanne: What will you miss most in space?
André Kuipers: A hot shower.

Daan: How much do you weigh in space?
André Kuipers: 0 kg.

Mick: Have you wanted to be an astronaut ever since you were a kid?
André Kuipers: I have wanted to be an astronaut since I was 12. Before that, I wanted to be an archaeologist or a journalist.

Kris: Do you think it is cool up there?
André Kuipers: Yes, really cool!

Ilana: Do you keep a diary or a notebook in space?
André Kuipers: Yes, for the experiments and for myself.

Coen: Do you have a pet?
André Kuipers: Not now, I used to keep tortoises and rats.

Coen: Do you like football?
André Kuipers: I played football for 9 years for “ Zeeburgia” in Amsterdam.

Sophie: Have you ever had measles?
André Kuipers: Yes.

Fernando: What is your favourite colour?
André Kuipers: Green.

Bart: Do you eat floating custard?
André Kuipers: Now that would be a bit messy, wouldn’t it?

Apeldoorn5: Can you watch TV up there?
André Kuipers: No, we do not have TV.

Can you get diseases that are only found in space?
André Kuipers: No, only the same diseases that are found on Earth.

Raoul: What subject did you used to be best at?
André Kuipers: My best subjects were history and biology.

Charlotte: What will you feel when they say 3..2..1.. blast off?
André Kuipers: I will feel my heart pounding very fast!

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