14 September 2011
Space comes down to Earth on Sunday in Cologne when ESA’s Astronaut Centre and the German Aerospace Center open their doors to the public. Europe’s first space tweetup and live webstreams will let you join in and look around.
In a rare event, many astronauts will home in on the European Astronaut Centre this weekend. And you are invited!
On the same campus in the Porz neighbourhood near Cologne–Bonn airport, the DLR German Aerospace Center will display large research aircraft alongside many smaller ones, while opening its research facilities to the public.
The Right Stuff gathering at the EAC astronaut centre on 18 September will include ESA’s Paolo Nespoli and Roberto Vittori with NASA crewmates Catherine Coleman, Gregory Johnson, Michael Finke, Andrew Feustel and Gregory Chamitoff.
Chance to meet European astronauts
EAC will open its doors at 10:00 CEST, with the exciting presentations beginning at 11:15, starting with the ‘DAMA’ mission.
Last May’s Space Shuttle lofted a major science package to the International Space Station to hunt for ‘dark matter’ – hence the name DAMA for the mission of ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori.
All the Shuttle crew will come to Cologne and talk about their extraordinary flight.
The next EAC highlight is the MagISStra mission. ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli worked on the Space Station for almost six months until last June. His tweets and photos entertained a large audience, and now he will tell the story of his mission assisted by crewmate Catherine Coleman.
German Aerospace Day is a crowd-puller
Not only astronauts
Exploiting the Station as a space laboratory will be to the fore on Sunday. The full-size training mockups of the Station’s modules, Europe’s Columbus laboratory and the Automated Transfer Vehicle will be open to the public, along with real astronaut training and medical monitoring equipment – and the people working with them.
ESA’s Lunar Lander and Space Situational Awareness programmes will also be highlighted.
SOFIA flying observatory
The activities at the DLR campus will also start at 10:00 CEST. The public will be able to visit various DLR institutes and facilities up to 18:00.
In addition, part of the airport tarmac will be open to display planes such as SOFIA – Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – a Boeing 747 SP airliner modified as a flying observatory for German and other astronomers.
This is SOFIA’s first visit to Europe from its home base in California.
Another rarity on show will be the Airbus A300 Zero-G – the world’s largest aircraft for creating weightlessness for research and astronaut training. You will be able to climb on board 14:00–16:30 CEST.
German Aerospace Day will be an unprecedented web event. ESA and DLR will broadcast live video, and Europe’s first space tweetup will spread the word throughout the day.
ESA and DLR have invited 60 Twitter followers to this informal, educational gathering. They will have exclusive access to places and events, and some of them will meet the astronauts.
Map of the German Aerospace Day venue, for full explanations, see www.tagderluftundraumfahrt.de.