André Kuipers is scheduled to be launched on 21 December from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, on a Soyuz spacecraft as flight engineer for Expeditions 30 and 31, together with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and NASA astronaut Don Pettit. They will remain in space for nearly five months as part of the resident, international six-astronaut crew.
This will be André’s second visit to the ISS after his 11-day Delta mission sponsored by the Dutch government in April 2004. During Delta, the Space Station had only four main modules (Zarya, Unity, Destiny and Zvezda) and two permanent crewmembers.
During the 148-day mission he will take part in around 30 ESA experiments covering a range of disciplines: human research, fluid physics, materials science, radiation and solar research, biology and technology demonstrations. Most of them will be carried out in Europe’s Columbus laboratory, a world-class research platform in space. He will also perform more than 20 for the US and Japanese space agencies requiring the use of almost 30 different research facilities in the various ISS laboratories.
As flight engineer on the Station, André will have several assignments, ranging from system aspects to payload operations. He will be on hand for processing of visiting vehicles. He will be the prime crewmember for the rendezvous and docking operations of ESA’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle Edoardo Amaldi (ATV-3). He will be highly involved in berthing the new visiting vehicles Dragon (SpaceX) and Cygnus (Orbital Sciences) as part of NASA’s commercial resupply programme.
André Kuipers will have his eyes on our planet. He will share some of the unique views of Earth from the Station’s Cupola and invite children to become involved in a wide range of educational activities. Space is the exciting platform chosen for primary and secondary pupils to learn, together with the astronaut, about life, biodiversity and climate change on Earth.
Science activities will be transmitted from space to classrooms across Europe with in-orbit demonstrations of experiments on convection and wet foam formation. André is also an advocate for health and human well-being. He will encourage the new generation of space explorers to stay fit by following the second edition of the international education initiative Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut.