Guidoni makes history as first European astronaut on Space Station
On 19 April 2001, Europe sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station when Space Shuttle Endeavour and its seven-strong crew lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 14:41 local time (20:41 Central European Summer Time).
Full coverage and videos from the mission are available on the Guidoni mission highlights webpage >>
Italian ESA astronaut, Umberto Guidoni (46) and his six colleagues left a pleasant spring afternoon in Florida behind them at the start of a two-day journey which saw them docking with the Station some 260 km above the Earth's surface on 21 April.
The 11-day STS-100 mission was the ninth Shuttle visit to the International Space Station and included two space walks. The main payloads were the Italian-built Raffaello multi-purpose pressurised logistics module (MPLM) and Canada's giant robotic arm. Both are crucial elements in the ongoing construction of the Space Station and the initiation of scientific experimental work. A UHF antenna, for in-orbit communications during space walks, was also on board.
The MPLM is a pressurised module with a sophisticated internal life support system, allowing astronauts to work inside it and unload equipment while berthed at the Station. It is the only module capable of delivering the special racked experiments prepared for the Station's laboratories. In addition, it serves as a 'removal van', carrying other equipment and supplies to and from the Station.
On this mission the Raffaello MPLM carried experiments for the US Destiny laboratory module, together with vital supplies and equipment both for the astronauts living on the Station and for future construction and maintenance work.
Guidoni's trip to the International Space Station was the culmination of five years of intensive training. He had his first flight experience in 1996 as payload specialist on the 16-day tethered satellite mission and on STS-100 played a key part in mission activities. As 'loadmaster' in charge of MPLM logistical operations, he oversaw the activation and deactivation of Raffaello and, in a back-up role, helped to operate the Shuttle's robotic arm during the space walks. Once the Canadian robotic arm was installed, Guidoni oversaw attachment of the MPLM to the Unity laboratory module and organised the daunting task of transferring the ten tonnes of equipment into the Space Station. The MPLM was reloaded with unwanted cargo and waste and returned to Earth.
The mission was a milestone in the development of the Space Station. "Previous missions have involved taking up components and materials for use in construction. Ours really marks the beginning of scientific use of the Station," said Guidoni.
The International Space Station, the biggest habitable structure ever built in space, is being constructed jointly by the world's major space powers: the United States, Europe (represented by the European Space Agency), Russia, Canada and Japan. It will eventually house a unique research facility in space, generating scientific information and technology that will improve the lives of future generations. It will also provide unique opportunities for industrial and commercial applications.