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Plotting a path from the first Europeans in orbit, the series has so far covered: European astronauts who flew under Russia’s Interkosmos programme; the design, build and flight of ESA’s SpaceLab orbital laboratory; and ESA’s first astronaut Ulf Merbold.

Episode four touches on some European projects that did not make it to completion, such as the Hermes space plane and the Crew Return Vehicle, alongside the challenges of developing modules for the International Space Station that would meet budgets and international standards.

Artist’s impression of the Crew Return Vehicle. ESA-D.Ducros

Lessons learned throughout these projects, both in terms of developing space hardware and working with international partners, play a major role in the way ESA operates today.

In this episode you will hear from:

  • Philippe Berthe – ESA Project Coordination Manager for the European Service Modules (ESM) that will power NASA’s Orion spacecraft;
  • Frank De Winne – Europe’s first International Space Station commander and current ESA International Space Station programme manager; and
  • Alan Thirkettle – engineer for SpaceLab and ESA’s first International Space Station programme manager.

Cutaway view of the Hermes space vehicle. ESA-D. Ducros

ESA Explores episodes are available via all major podcast platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Stitcher and SoundCloud. Wherever you listen, consider rating and subscribing to help share the stories of Europe in space.[:]