Postcards from space
Travellers have always sent postcards from exotic destinations. Although the International Space Station is circling only 400 km above Earth, no astronaut has ever been able to send a postcard from space – until now.
ESA astronaut André Kuipers has become the first to send a postcard from space, at the same time raising awareness of chronic diseases.
In partnership with Dutch postal company PostNL, André took a picture of himself in the Station and sent it to Earth via a web service.
The postcard was written and designed on the Internet, then printed and delivered by a postman a day later.
Anybody with an Internet connection can make use of the service. The links to the right show you how (in Dutch).
André decided to send his postcard to Emma in the Netherlands in celebration of her 11th birthday. Emma suffers from Maroteaux–Lamy syndrome, a rare, incurable disease.
In addition to sending this postcard to his friend, André hopes to raise awareness for this syndrome and other rare diseases.
Maroteaux–Lamy syndrome affects young children, restricting the mobility of their arms and legs, and reducing their life expectancy. The rarity of the disease has meant that research to find a cure has been restricted by lack of funds.
André will spend five months in space as part of ESA’s PromISSe mission. Assembly of the Station is almost complete, allowing André to spend a large amount of his time on research and experiments.
The unique environment in space allows scientists to conduct valuable research in many fields such as chemistry, biology and physiology.
Although no experiments are being done specifically for the Maroteaux–Lamy syndrome, data collected by André will help scientists to understand the working of the human body.