A bicycle is the best means to get around in Star City!

André Kuipers in training

25 August 2011

ESA's next space-bound astronaut, André Kuipers, has spent most of the summer intensively training for his upcoming mission to the International Space Station.

André and crewmates Oleg Kononenko and Don Pettit have spent days in the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) in Star City, not far from Moscow in Russia, at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, and at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA.

These photos tell the story of his summer time – rather different to the usual holiday snaps!

André is also writing in Dutch about his busy life in his blog André Kuipers logboek and you can follow his progress on Twitter in both English and Dutch: @Astro_Andre.

It's not only fancy spacecraft simulators: André Kuipers (right) with Don Pettit (left) and Oleg Kononenko in a classroom at the GCTC. Yes, they have exams, too!
Training for emergencies in one of the Soyuz TMA simulators. In the event of fire or air contamination, the crew dons gas masks and carry on working.
Inside a Soyuz TMA simulator, now without the masks (from left: André, Oleg and Don).
André (middle), Don (left) and Oleg in a mockup of the Zvezda module at the GCTC.
André meeting visitors in the GCTC centrifuge building. This 'TsF-18' centrifuge is the world's biggest centrifuge used for humans.
The gondola of the TsF-18. The centrifuge is used to prepare the astronauts for high g-loads and rapid changes in acceleration.
Inside the gondola is a rough mockup of a Soyuz capsule interior. The centrifuge can go up to 30 g, but training sessions use 'only' about 10 g, which can be experienced on emergency landings.
At the European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, Germany, André and Oleg Kononenko got to know ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle in a full-size simulator.
During their mission, André and Oleg will supervise the arrival of ATV-3, ESA's third cargo craft, named Edoardo Amaldi. Here, André and Oleg are training for ATV's arrival.
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