ESA PR 64-2004. Roberto Vittori will be the next ESA astronaut to fly to the International Space Station, on the 10-day Italian Soyuz mission, scheduled to be launched on 15 April next year from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The mission is called ENEIDE and takes its name from the epic tale written by the Latin poet Virgil in the 1st century BC. This story tells of the journey of Aeneas from Troy to Italy and the foundation of Rome.
Vittori is a member of ESA’s European Astronaut Corps and also an active Italian Air Force pilot. He is scheduled to take off on flight 10S to the ISS as flight engineer on board the Soyuz TMA-6 spacecraft alongside the Soyuz Commander and Roskosmos cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev and NASA astronaut John Phillips.
The main objectives of the mission are: for the ESA astronaut to perform a full experimental programme of major scientific interest and valuable international cooperation on board the ISS; to exchange the station lifeboat, Soyuz TMA-5, for Soyuz TMA-6; and to exchange the current ISS Expedition 10 crew (Leroy Chiao and Salizhan Sharipov) for the ISS Expedition 11 crew (Krikalev and Phillips).
As flight engineer on both the ascent phase and the return journey, Vittori will take an active role in piloting and docking the spacecraft. Seven European astronauts have flown to and worked on the ISS so far though this is the first time that a European astronaut will be on his second mission to the ISS. From 25 April to 5 May 2002 Vittori took part in the Marco Polo mission. This will also be the first time that four of the five ISS partners, the ESA Member States known as the “European Partner”, Russia, the United States and Canada, have taken part in a Soyuz mission to the ISS, since the backup astronaut for Roberto Vittori is Robert Thirsk from the Canadian Space Agency (Canada is an ESA Cooperating State).
The Soyuz TMA-6 spacecraft will remain docked with the ISS for six months to act as an emergency return vehicle for the ISS Expedition 11 crew. For Vittori’s return journey in Soyuz TMA-5, he will be accompanied by the current ISS crew, Leroy Chiao, Expedition 10 Commander, and Salizhan Sharipov, Expedition 10 Flight Engineer. Soyuz TMA-5 is the spacecraft which carried the Expedition 10 crew to the ISS in October. Sergei Krikalev will take over from Leroy Chiao as ISS Commander and John Phillips from Salizhan Sharipov as ISS Flight Engineer.
ENEIDE, an ESA mission, is co-sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Defence and the Lazio Region, with the support of Finmeccanica, FILAS and the Rome Chamber of Commerce (CCIAA). Many of the experiments are being developed by Italian researchers and built by Italian industry and research institutions.
“I am pleased to see this mission taking shape with such a great degree of international involvement”, said Daniel Sacotte, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration Programmes, “ENEIDE, as with all human spaceflight missions, will benefit many areas of life and further expand the experience of the European Astronaut Corps. This will help us on the road to further human exploration of our solar system”.
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