Author Archives: julien

Hatch is closed

Luca, Karen and Fyodor have left the International Space Station for their Soyuz spacecraft. They will now perform leak tests to make sure everything is airtight. Separation is set for 00:26

Helicopters are standing by…

In Kazakhstan the weather is good for tonight’s landing. The helicopters that will arrive first at Luca, Karen and Fyodor’s landing site are ready to roll…

Mission accomplished with more than 100 000 000 km flow...

Mission control at Columbus Control Centre is ready for Luca’s return. Watch live from Sunday 20:30 CET and follow the landing via Twitter @esaoperations: We knew the day would come, Luca’s last day in orbit. Everything is go for the return of the three astronauts that stayed 166 days in orbit since the end of May. We have spent 166 days working around the clock in the Columbus Control Centre supporting Luca’s mission, he experienced more than 2600 nights and days and has flown more than 100 million kilometres. In addition Luca spent more than 100 hours working on ESA scientific experiments. The mission was a great success and it goes without...

Super Luca: the proof

This entry was written yesterday by Volare mission director Roland Luettgens: Today we had our weekly crew conference with Luca and we had quite a list of topics to talk about. The crew conference is a weekly coordination between astronauts and the Control Centres. We talk about many topics including details about activities to come. Luca is preparing to relocate the Soyuz spacecraft on Friday so we had a lot to talk about. As usual, first we performed a voice check between Luca and us to ensure we can hear each other and the audio quality is good. After this check, we turn on the camera inside the Columbus module so that...

Many changes before Luca returns

ESA mission director Roland Luettgens keeps us up to date on Luca’s Volare mission: There is an incredible period of activity around the International Space Station these days with many things happening onboard as well as on ground over the next three weeks. In three weeks Luca will be back on Earth but the activity planning between now and when he returns has changed considerably. Tuesday 22 October:  Cygnus unberthing The Cygnus spacecraft will leave the Space Station around midday. The ground teams and astronauts are busy preparing for its departure. Luca and crewmate Karen will operate the Canadian Robotics Arm to release the spacecraft. Like all spacecraft that do not land...

Cygnus

It is dark outside, an impenetrable blackness surrounds us, so we are probably flying over an ocean as. I look around the Cupola and realise that the lights around me and the surreal blue twilight outside would probably drown-out the faint lights of the big cities anyway. Cygnus is flying below us, invisible in the darkness that surrounds it, but Karen and I will try to catch a glimpse of the spacecraft anyway: I know that dawn is not far off, and I have been waiting a week to see the supply ship. I might have lost my eagle-eyes that I developed as a pilot, when I was trained to recognise aircraft from...

Shared experiences of isolation in cold space

Antonio Litterio and the Concordia crew talked with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano on the International Space Station last week. The Concordia crew, surrounded by 600 km of white space share their experiences with Luca, surrounded by infinite black space. As always Antonio suggests you listen to music by Roberto Cacciapaglia as you read his experience: On 20 September, our reality was confronted by another reality in a unique isolated location.  At 19:50 an unusual place shows on the screen in our living room , it is a small space and a person floats freely  right in the centre of it.  It is Luca Parmitano, the Italian astronaut currently on a mission on...

Special visitor at Col-CC – Alan Parsons

The Columbus Control Centre had a special visitor today, musician Alan Parsons. During a concert in Rome he dedicated one of his songs to Luca and we were honoured to receive him today at Col-CC. It’s really nice to have the two world of music and space operations come together. We had the opportunity to talk with Alan and we concluded that we have one thing in common. Both our professions are based on dedication and passion. It’s always nice to have these special events and be able to share a bit of our work. After his visit we asked Alan to sign the wall of our Control Room, where all astronauts...

Luca and company

After the successful launch of Soyuz 36S at 20:58 GMT, the new expedition crew arrived after a short voyage at 2:48 GMT. The new and old crew had a warm welcome at 4:34 GMT and finished activities in the morning at around 6:00 GMT before going to bed for a long 11-hour rest. The closeout activities include configuring the Soyuz spacecraft after arrival. Many things need to be done such as leak-checks to ensure the vehicle is tightly connected to the International Space Station. The spaceship is powered down and awaits its return flight in six months. The complete crew of six begin their joint daily activities Friday morning and return to...

Luca’s weekend – and ours

After the successful launch of Cygnus last week we were expecting the spaceship to arrive on Sunday. The weekend plans were uploaded and all teams and activities involved with the capture of the space vehicle were ready to go. Control centres check the final approach several times that all systems are ready as  there is no room for errors. A space ship weighing several tons approaching the International Space Station has to operate perfectly so that there is no risk for collision. Both the Space Station and Cygnus use data that is provided by navigation satellites, similar the ones we use in car navigation. The control centres monitor and control those systems...