Today I sent Emma a birthday card from space. She is eleven years old today. Emma has a rare disease: MPS VI, or Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome. Only about 1000 people in the world are diagnosed with MPS VI. That might not seem many, but for the people who suffer from the disease that number is of course meaningless… Aside from MPS VI there are many more rare diseases that receive little attention and little funding for research. Even so, children and their loved ones suffer from these illnesses. I hope that we can change this. That is why I became an ambassador for the WE foundation which is seeking cures for these diseases.

PostNL asked me a few months ago if I was willing to help them with a new service called KaartWereld. This service makes it possible to send a postcard easily via internet or telephone which is then delivered by normal postal service. It seemed like a nice idea, as long as I could send my card to Emma. This way I could congratulate her on her birthday and she will be happy to receive the first ever postcard from space. In addition we would draw attention to the WE foundation, MPS VI and other rare diseases in general.

Photo from the Cupola
It is possible to upload your own photo with the KaartWereld postcard service. I took a picture of myself in the Cupola module which has beautiful windows. ESA built the Cupola for the ISS and it was launched in February 2010. It is by far

the favourite place of the astronauts on board, as Earth can be seen very well through the big window. Through the six smaller windows you can enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view. The text I wrote on the postcard is: ‘Hello Emma, Happy Birthday. It is very special to celebrate your birthday from space and for me to send you the first ever postcard from space. I took a picture of the International Space Station for you. I am enjoying the most magnificent views of our fragile planet from up here. When I am back on earth, shall we meet at ESA in Noordwijk? Greetings from the ISS, André.’