The Expedition 17 crew were treated to some new reading material on board the International Space Station. Among the cargo to arrive at the Station with ATV Jules Verne last April was an original 19th century luxury edition of Jules Verne's book De la Terre à la Lune, and two of his handwritten manuscripts.
The crew recently retrieved the book and manuscripts from the Automated Transfer Vehicle's cargo hold. Expedition 17 Commander Sergei Volkov recorded a video message to mark the occasion which was played following yesterday's ISS Heads of Agencies meeting in Paris, France.
The manuscripts, which are on loan from the Amiens Metropole Library, are part of a collection devoted to French author and science fiction pioneer Jules Verne, for which Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle is named.
In one of the handwritten documents dating from between 1890 and 1899, Jules Verne explores several distances in astronomy, indicating how long it would take to cover each distance by foot, by train and at the speed of light. The second manuscript, thought to date from 1876, is a celestial chart, showing the constellations Aquila, Orion, Pegasus and Virgo.
Reach to the stars
Addressing the ISS Heads of Agencies during a live audio link with the Space Station crew, NASA astronaut and Expedition 17 Flight Engineer Gregory Chamitoff reflected on how Jules Verne's stories have inspired generations of dreamers to reach to the stars.
"It is very much an honour and a privilege to be working on the Space Station at a time when a vehicle called Jules Verne is docked," said Chamitoff. "It has proven that the European partners have achieved a high level of technology and, along with Columbus, it gives Europeans a permanent foothold in space for long duration science and exploration."
ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain thanked the ISS crew for taking time out from their duties to participate in the call. Reflecting on the Jules Verne theme of the event, Dordain added, "It was not only a link between Paris and the Space Station; it was also a link between the past and the future, and I would say also a link between dreams and reality."
Dordain closed the event by announcing plans to undock ATV Jules Verne the period between 5-22 September; with the destructive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere and the end of ATV's mission scheduled for 29 September 2008.
A recording of the audio call between Paris and the Space Station is linked on the right.