ESA astronaut André Kuipers completed a short spaceflight in April 2004 and returned to space on the 21st of December 2011. This time he will stay for 5,5 months in the International Space Station. In addition to being an astronaut André Kuipers will fulfil the role of scientist, doctor and teacher. His programme is fully booked with many scientific experiments and educational activities.
The International Space Station is a unique laboratory because of weightlessness in space: everything floats. In this ‘micro-gravity’ environment it is possible to conduct experiments that are impossible on Earth. ISS experiments include biology, physics, chemistry and material science as well as research in human physiology.
Schoolchildren in action
In addition to the extensive scientific programme, Kuipers will spend time on educational activities. ESA has developed a special project called Spaceship Earth together with the Netherlands Space Office, the Worldwide Wildlife Fund and Dutch science museums NEMO and Space Expo . Kuipers will ask schoolchildren to actively follow his mission with lessons, experiments and three interactive online missions.
André Kuipers was launched on the 21st of December 2011. He left the Earth for the International Space Station from Baikonur, Kazachstan in the Sojuz TMA-3M spaceship. Mid May 2012 he will return, landing in the steppe of Kazachstan. He is the only Dutch astronaut to have flown two space missions and will have spent almost a half year orbiting the Earth.