Astrolab post-flight tour

ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter is interviewed during the Astrolab post-flight tour
29 June 2007

ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter was recently joined on a European post-flight tour by the four cosmonauts and astronauts who shared his home during last year's six-month Astrolab Mission to the International Space Station.

During the 9-day tour, kicking off in central Paris on 15 June, five ex-residents of the International Space Station (ISS) visited several locations in Germany and France, including a university and two museums, as well as the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget.

Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, both from the ISS Expedition 13 crew, along with NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, from ISS Expedition 14, joined Thomas Reiter in talking to enthusiastic audiences about life and work onboard the ISS.

The selection of images below gives a glimpse of their tour.

15 June: ESA Space Show, Paris

European astronaut corps together with Russian and American colleagues

The NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts are invited to join Thomas Reiter on stage in Paris, along with 12 other European astronauts brought together on the occasion of the ESA Space Show.

The European post-flight tour kicked off with a live in-flight call to Sunita Williams on board the ISS – Williams replaced Reiter as a member of the Expedition 14 crew last December.

18 June: European Astronaut Centre

An opportunity to talk to the astronauts in person

The tour's first stop in Germany was a visit to the European Astronaut Centre (EAC), in Cologne, the home base of the European Astronaut Corps.

The audience included representatives from the German space industry.

Later in the day there was the opportunity to speak to the astronauts in person.

19 June: Press conference at EAC

ISS Expedition 13 and 14 during a press conference at EAC

Public and press watched a video showing highlights of the Astrolab Mission.

The ESA, NASA and Russian astronauts and cosmonauts provided their personal commentary to the video for the very first time together.

19 June: ICE train from Cologne to Stuttgart

Pavel Vinogradov meets the ICE train driver

Later the same day, the crews travelled from Cologne to Stuttgart, the next destination on their post-flight tour.

They could compare the ergonomics of the driver's cab with the Shuttle cabin and enjoy a traditional German 'Currywurst' in the onboard restaurant.

That was also the occasion for the channel Bahn TV to make a documentary about the Astrolab post-flight tour.

20 June: University of Stuttgart conference

The chance to see five recent ISS residents together on one stage

The chance to see five recent ISS residents together on one stage attracted such a crowd of space engineering students that there was standing-room only for latecomers.

After the Astrolab Mission presentation, Ernst Messerschmid, former astronaut and former Head of EAC, moderated a Q&A session. The questions, in German, English and even in Russian, were very technical, giving the astronauts and cosmonauts the opportunity to report on the science programme they performed on ISS. They also shared their personal experiences of spaceflight.

21 June: Deutsches Museum, Oberschleissheim

At the presentation, Jean Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General, and Erwin Huber, Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs, pointed out the prime importance of the cooperation between ESA and Bavaria in their opening speeches. Both congratulated the crews on their outstanding courage and characterised them as heroes of a modern form of exploration.

Many scientists and representatives of the Bavarian space sector attended the event in Oberschleissheim. The result was a high level discussion during the Q&A session which was moderated by Jörg Feustel-Büchl, former ESA Director of Human Spaceflight.

22 June: Humanity's next steps in space

The astronauts visited ESA's Space Operations Centre (ESOC), in Darmstadt, Germany, for a lively discussion on the future direction of human exploration in our Solar System.

Dr Alois Rhiel, Hessian Minister of Economic Affairs, congratulated the crews on their contribution to research and life in space.

23 June: Paris Air Show, Le Bourget

The five ISS colleagues of Expedition 13 and Expedition 14 spent the whole day on the ESA Pavilion at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget. They presented their missions to an enthusiastic audience, clearly fascinated to be in the presence of the cosmonauts and astronauts.

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