Space Station mission full of PromISSe
5 January 2012
ESA’s PromISSe mission has begun. Two days after their Soyuz rocket blasted off from frozen Baikonur Cosmodrome on 21 December, Dutch astronaut André Kuipers, Russian Oleg Kononenko and American Don Pettit arrived at the ISS.
After opening the hatch of their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft, they were greeted by three more members of the Expedition 30 crew, who had already been living on the ISS for over a month.
ESA’s fourth long-term mission on the ISS promises to be very busy. Before he returns to Earth next May, flight engineer André will be responsible for the arrival and docking of ESA’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle, the Edoardo Amaldi. The mission should also see historic first dockings by the new, privately built, Dragon and Cygnus spacecraft.
More than 25 European experiments will be carried out during André’s mission. They cover human research, fluid physics, materials science, radiation research, biology and technology. André will also conduct about 20 experiments for the US and Japanese space agencies.
Education will be an important part of the mission, with a wide range of activities based on the theme ‘Spaceship Earth’. Science demonstrations will be beamed from orbit to classrooms across Europe. André will also challenge thousands of children to become superfit by taking part in ‘Mission-X: Train Like an Astronaut’.
It is easy to follow the mission: André is tweeting on @astro_andre and writing his own mission diary in Dutch (‘Logboek’) with English translations. The PromISSe blog covers the entire mission and it’s also an ideal way to post questions and comments. For more information about the mission, click on www.esa.int/promisse .