Kids call Luca on board space station

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31 July 2013

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is nearly half way through his 'Volare' mission on board the International Space Station (ISS). During a special amateur radio link on 24 July, some of the young people attending the ESA Space Camp in Austria were able to speak with Luca as he flew overhead. Here is an edited selection of their questions and answers.

Fenne: What interest is there to be or to go to space?
Luca: I think the interest is that what we are doing today will let you guys one day go way beyond low Earth orbit and do exploration to different planets, hopefully.

Leon: Knowing that everything flies on-board the ISS, how do you eat?
Luca: Well, we eat just normally like we do on Earth. I have an experiment for you. If you try and stand upside down and try to eat something you will see you can eat normally.

Eveline: How do you prepare for a spacewalk?
Luca: When we are on the ground we go under water in a spacesuit that is very similar to the ones that we use outside and that helps us get used to manoeuvring it, even in vacuum and lack of weight.

Pierre: Could you please describe what impresses you most when you look from the window of the ISS?
Luca: Well, everything is very impressive. I personally like the most flying over the coastlines because it's easy to recognise the places. And then the interaction between the islands and the oceans and the clouds, it's just beautiful. But also town centres and lights are incredible.

Peter: What is your favourite dish and dessert?
Luca: I have a lot of favourite dishes and lots of favourite desserts but I don't miss them in space because we have a lot of food up here that is very good. So I have my steaks and I have my Italian food such as my lasagne and I love all the desserts up here including the tiramisu.

Ella: What colours of the earth can you recognise from space?
Luca: Oh, we can recognise all kinds of colours. When we go over the desert it’s ochre and terracotta and yellow and red. It's beautiful. And when we are over the cities it becomes grey, or very green when we're over forest.

Frank: What are three coolest things you have done in space?
Luca: Well that's hard to say because we do a lot of cool things, but I think getting here was the very first cool thing …. And then my EVAs were very very cool …, and another thing that is very cool that we do every day is the science.

Roxane: Because night and daylight are different in space, and because you are always "floating", I was wondering, is it easy to fall asleep in the ISS?
Luca: We shut down all the windows and put in ear plugs so that we feel like it's night but because you're floating your body needs to get adjusted to it so it took me a couple of weeks to fall asleep and have a good night’s sleep on the ISS.

Francesco: Although the mission involved long training, can you tell us whether you have experienced unexpected emotions aboard the ISS?
Luca: Oh, everything was unexpected once you get here…. nothing can prepare you for actually living on the station. It's much much better when you do it.

Caterina: How many times a day do you see the sunset and the sunrise from ISS?
Luca: Well, we make an orbit every 90 minutes, so about sixteen times we see the sunrise and the sunset if we are at the window.

Axel: How are you dealing with not breathing fresh air?
Luca: The air that we breathe on the station doesn't have any smell and it's because of the ventilation. It feels like it's fresh and flowing so I haven't had any problems adjusting to it.