From on board the International Space Station, ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter recently sent an email to his colleagues at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC), in Cologne, Germany. Reiter has given his permission to publish his email, which was written during the build-up to last week's Extra-vehicular Activity (EVA), on the ESA website.
Reiter starts his message by thanking his EAC colleagues for the surprise that was awaiting him on arrival at the Station – they had sent up a photo collage. The email included two photographs which are also published here.
The full text of his email message follows.
After almost 4 weeks in space some greetings from me to you are more than overdue! First of all, I would like to thank you all for this extraordinary welcome-surprise, which you have done for me. I have looked at it already many times, and I REALLY like it for various reasons: first of all, it's very original and funny! Secondly, it reminds me of my colleagues at EAC, who I haven't seen too often in the last years, but that's even more a reason to have your pictures. And third, it signifies to me that this mission is only possible, because such a great team in our directorate is behind it - and you are a major part of this team!
One of the reasons, why this note is a little bit late, is the fact that I tried to append a nice picture from Cologne. However, I'm afraid I didn't get a good shot yet. But I will promise to work on it - fortunately I have still a few days up here to exercise my photo-skills. In less than 6 weeks we should be flying over Europe again during optimal daylight conditions, and if the weather allows, I will hopefully get a good shot then. Instead, I hope that the attached picture catches a little bit the enchantment of spaceflight, which I would love to share with you as much as possible!
The first weeks up here went by very quickly. After the Shuttle had undocked all of us needed to recover a little bit - mainly recover some sleep. Then it took me some days to adapt to the "station pace", getting organized for living here for some time, and adapt to the physical exercise, which is necessary to maintain a good health. Pavel and Jeff are some great comrades, and they helped me a lot in getting settled. Now the next highlight is coming up - the EVA. As exciting this endeavour might be, it requires a lot of preparation up here. We started with this work beginning of last week, and it still covers the major part of our schedule until after the task is completed. And this is not when we are back in the airlock and out of the spacesuits, but only after the suits have been maintained, the airlock is cleared for future EVAs and all station systems are back to normal.
I hope you find the time to follow a little bit our work inside and outside of the station. The mission has just started, and it will still continue for a couple of months. I will be thinking of you, who did such an excellent job in preparing my astronaut colleagues and myself for flights to space. Without you it wouldn't be possible!
I wish you a great summer and I'm looking forward to see you all again at EAC!
Many greetings from Orbit,