Author Archives: maria

The way back to Earth

Having lived and worked on the International Space Station for 191 days, spanning both Expeditions 30 and 31, ESA astronaut André Kuipers and his crewmates Oleg Kononenko and Don Pettit are preparing to return Earth on Sunday morning. After entering the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft and closing the hatches at 03:40 CEST, the Soyuz is set to undock from the Station at 06:53 CEST on Sunday morning. A couple of hours later at 09:19 CEST, a 4 minute 25 second deorbit burn will start the Soyuz on it's journey towards Earth's atmosphere. Shortly before entering the atmosphere, at 09:48 CEST, the Soyuz spacecraft separates into its three parts. The orbital and service modules...

New blog post from André: ‘Cut off underwater and...

In a final blog entry from the International Space Station, André reflects on the contact he had with two other isolated missions... André writes: "The six of us on the Space Station live quite isolated from the world. But we are not the only people in such a situation. Before my mission started I asked if I could be in contact with two other missions. One on the bottom of the sea and one on the South Pole. I had very special conversations with people that are in similar situations or even more isolated." Read more in André's blog: 'Cut off underwater and near the South Pole'

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Within Temptation dedicate ‘Faster’ to Andr...

Within Temptation is the internationally known symphonic rock band, founded in the Netherlands in 1996 by vocalist Sharon den Adel and guitarist Robert Westerholt. The band members are interested in all things science-fiction and space-related, and have been following the PromISSe mission of ESA astronaut André Kuipers. When they heard that three of their songs ("Faster", "Mother Earth" and "The Promise") had been included in André's playlist to be played in space, the band were very excited to support his mission. They helped us to produce this video, recording a special message and dedicating their song "Faster" to André, wishing him a high-speed but safe return later this week. Within Temptation are...

New blog post from André: ‘Checking water valves ...

Some last International Space Station maintanence tasks for ESA astronaut André Kuipers before he and fellow crewmates Don Pettit and Oleg Kononenko make the return journey to Earth at the end of their six-month stay. André writes: "Two more days to go before my stay in space will end. I managed to complete three important tasks before I have to leave. I inspected cooling fluid valves for the Columbus laboratory, fixed an American scientific experiment rack and worked on the Japanese Ryutai rack. We do many maintenance tasks in the ISS. Maintenance must be done in a timely fashion to assure that the Space Station is used optimally for our scientific experiments."...

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André: “Every time you look at the planet it is a...

In this video Space Station astronauts André Kuipers, Don Pettit and Joe Acaba talk to US media in a final media interview before the end of the PromISSe mission to the ISS. André and Don are scheduled to land in their Soyuz spacecraft together with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko on 1 July after 6 1/2 months in orbit. Acaba remains on board the ISS until mid-September.

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“Life is good on the space station” –...

Expedition 31 Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Joe Acaba of NASA and André Kuipers of the European Space Agency discussed life and research on board the International Space Station during an educational in-flight event with US students attending an education event in Philadelphia on 26 June. The session included some great questions such as 'How do you do your laundry?', 'Can you have pets on the space station?', 'Can you take a shower in space?', leading to some interesting and often entertaining answers from the ISS residents.

André’s ride home: Soyuz TMA-03 spacecraft

A view of the Soyuz TMA-03M that is set to return ESA astronaut André Kuipers and his crewmates Don Pettit and Oleg Kononenko to Earth on Sunday morning. Posted on Flickr, André writes in the caption: "I will return in this Soyuz. From 28.000 to 0 km/h. Middle portion has a heat shield. The round section at the top and the section with the solar panels will burn up." The Soyuz TMA-03M is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 06:48 CEST (04:48 UT) on 1 July. Landing in the Kazakhstan Steppe will follow at around 10:14 CEST (08:14 UT). More photos from the PromISSe Mission in André's Flickr photostream

PromISSe Mission is ESA’s longest

As of this afternoon, 188 days have elapsed since ESA astronaut André Kuipers launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome at start of the PromISSe Mission. In passing this milestone, André now holds the record for the longest stay in space by an ESA astronaut. The record was previously held by ESA astronaut Frank de Winne who spent 187 days 20 hours in space for the OasISS Mission to the International Space Station between May and December 2009. André is set to remain on board the ISS until Sunday 1 July, when he is scheduled to return to Earth with the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft together with NASA astronaut Don Pettit and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko....

Wrapping up six months of work

ESA astronaut André Kuipers is scheduled to leave the International Space Station and land on 1 July. André is finishing experiments and packing his bags ready for departure. One of the last experiments is looking at how a human body stays warm. We take it for granted that our bodies stay at around 37ºC. Go jogging, spend time in a sauna, forget your coat on a cold day and your body will adapt and regulate its temperature. Blood vessels expand or contract and we sweat to keep heat or let excess warmth evaporate. On Earth, our bodies rely on convection to cool down: as liquids and gases heat up they become less...

New blog post from André: ‘ICV: measuring blood f...

In his latest blog entry from on board the International Space Station, André Kuipers writes about taking part in a NASA experiment that measures astronaut’s blood pressure and heart rhythm during long stays in space. André writes: The ISS repeatedly flew across the “terminator” over the last weeks. The terminator is the border between day and night on Earth. Flying in this orbit is a weird feeling as we see the Sun continuously on the horizon. It came in handy to take pictures of the Venus transit but night-time photography was out of the question unfortunately. I focussed on the golden-yellow reflection of the Sun on Earth instead. This makes beautiful pictures...

New blog entry from André: ‘Looking for the best ...

At the start of his last week on the International Space Station, ESA astronaut André Kuipers writes about the ALTEA SHIELD experiment that will one day provide astronauts with an improved radiation shield. He writes: "When I return through Earth's atmosphere in my Soyuz I will have spent 193 days in space. My mission will have been the longest European space flight in history. Everything went well thanks to the thousands of people on ground that continuously keep an eye on us. Safety is number one priority in human space flight. Missions such as mine are inherently risky. In the last few weeks I started an experiment that looks at one of...

Science on the ISS: Exploring the limits of life

You can freeze it, thaw it, vacuum dry it and expose it to radiation but still life survives. ESA’s research on the International Space Station is giving credibility to theories that life came from outer space – as well as helping to create better suncreams. In 2008 scientists sent the suitcase-sized Expose-E experiment package to the Space Station filled with organic compounds and living organisms to test their reaction to outer space. The experiment was installed on the outside of the ISS where the space samples endured the full power of the Sun’s rays. The samples were insulated somewhat by the Space Station but still had to cope with temperatures changing from...

Soyuz leak check in preparation for return to Earth

In preparation for their return to Earth with the Soyuz TMA-03M on 1 July, Oleg Kononenko, Don Pettit & André Kuipers recently donned their Russian Sokol launch and entry suits to perform the standard leak check in their spacecraft. Here they pose for a photograph in the Station's Destiny laboratory.

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ISS crew discusses life and work in space

Expedition 31 Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Don Pettit of NASA and ESA's André Kuipers discuss scientific research on the International Space Station and other facets of life and work in space during in-flight interviews 19 June with Fox Business News and the American Geophysical Union.