Day 6: Inflight call with EC President Prodi
ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori started day 6 of the Marco Polo mission with a televised link-up with Brussels, where he talked to European Commission President Romano Prodi and ESA Director General Antonio Rodotà.
All six crew members on board the ISS smiled and waved to the audience. EC President, Romano Prodi, asked the Marco Polo crew how the mission was going so far, to which Roberto’s Soyuz Commander, Yuri Gidzenko, replied, “We have a lot of things to do. The experiments are going well, everything is going according to schedule”.
Mr Rodotà commented on how ESA, as one of five partners, has contributed to the International Space Station for several years. He then asked Roberto how he has found living and working on board. Roberto replied, “I am impressed with the technology on the Space Station. I know this is the result of years of work by engineers from all over the world and also from Europe. ESA’s contribution is huge – it is very evident on the Station here today”. He continued, “I am very very excited about working here. Everyday there is something new to learn, it is an unbelievable experience”.
Roberto also spoke with a group of school children in Rome, hosted by ESA astronaut Umberto Guidoni, the first European to visit the ISS back in April 2001, and ASI.
Roberto showed the children the Soyuz spacecraft in which he arrived. The TM-34 will be attached to the Station for the next six months as a lifeboat for the Expedition crew. He and his crew mates, Soyuz commander Gidzenko and the South African Shuttleworth, will return in the ‘old’ Soyuz, currently attached to another docking port.
After his well-earned breakfast Roberto then carried on with the day’s programme of experiments, mainly focussing on the VEST operational test of new clothing materials and the CHIRO handgrip experiment.
Another pass over Italy gave Roberto a chance to take some more photographs of his home country.
Work on board the ISS is also proceeding smoothly for the Expedition 4 crew who today spent their 146th day in space. The core of the Space Station will have circled the Earth more than 20000 times by the time the next permanent crew, Expedition 5, replaces them at the beginning of June.