22 July 2014
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst is sharing beautiful photographs from space on his social media pages. Is there something you want to ask him while he is orbiting our planet? On 22 August you could talk to him in person during ESA’s SocialSpace event.
We are inviting 40 followers to join us at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany for a SocialSpace, with Alexander joining live through a video call from the International Space Station.
The SocialSpace will take place in the homebase for all of ESA’s astronauts. As well as the main event, we will tour the premises to see how astronauts train for their missions.
The event will also include an introduction to the Station and Alex’s Blue Dot mission by an ESA astronaut, and an opportunity to meet ESA’s social media teams.
Think of what you would most like to ask Alexander in space. The 10 most interesting and original questions will be selected and will be posed directly to Alexander by the person who sent the question. People will be chosen based on their question and their presence on social media.
The most original and interesting questions will be chosen by ESA’s social media team, so research your question – every astronaut has already answered “How do you go to the toilet in space?”
How to apply
Please complete the registration form to apply. Be sure to include your name and the question you would like to ask Alexander in English.
Registration is for one person only and is non-transferable. Please do not submit multiple applications. All registrants must be at least 18 years old on 22 August 2014. Please read the full Terms and Conditions before completing your application.
Please note that ESA will not cover travel, accommodation or food expenses. The event will be held in English.
Workspace, free broadband WiFi access and catering will be provided.
Registration closes on29 July at 10:00 GMT (12:00 CEST).
Once all applications have been processed, an email with confirmation information and additional instructions will be sent to those selected and those on the waiting list.
We expect to send notifications by 4 August. Please allow us time to process all the applications. We will keep you posted of progress.
Queries may be addressed to
ISSET’s Mission Discovery programme is a great opportunity for ordinary students to do something extraordinary.
High school and university students carry out biomedical research with NASA astronauts, rocket scientists and trainers for a week at one of the best universities in the world. In teams, you will propose an idea for your own biomedical experiment; the best idea will be sent to the International Space Station and put into practice in space.
With help from brilliant NASA role models, astronauts, astronaut trainers, scientists and engineers; you will learn about space through a variety of exhilarating hands-on activities, based on themes such as:
- NASA leadership and team building
- How space exploration benefits life on Earth
- Experiencing the environment of space
- Looking at different kinds of experiment & what makes them great
- How you succeed in your dreams and ambitions
To learn more or to share information about Mission Discovery at St. John’s College, Annapolis, download one of our PDF packages:
About NASA Astronaut Ken Ham
NASA EXPERIENCE: Selected by NASA in June 1998, he reported for training in August 1998. His astronaut candidate training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training and ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques. Initially assigned as Ascent/Entry, Orbit and station Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM), Ham completed his first spaceflight as pilot on STS-124 and logged more than 13 days in space. He completed his second mission as commander of the STS-132 crew and has logged a total of 25 days, 12 hours, 41 minutes and 9 seconds in space. Subsequently, Ham was assigned to the Aircraft Operations Division as a T-38N instructor pilot and WB-57F research pilot. Ham left the agency in June 2012.
SPACEFLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-124 Discovery (May 31 to June 14, 2008) was the 123rd space shuttle flight and the 26th space shuttle flight to the International Space Station. STS-124 was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and docked with the station on June 2, 2008, to deliver the Japanese Experiment Module-Pressurized Module (JEM-PM) and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System. The STS-124 shuttle astronauts delivered the 37-foot (11-meter) Kibo lab, added its rooftop storage room and performed three spacewalks to maintain the station and prime the new Japanese module’s robotic arm for work during the nine days it was docked at the orbiting laboratory. STS-124 also delivered a new station crew member, Expedition 17 Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff. He replaced Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman, who returned to Earth with the STS-124 crew. The STS-124 mission was completed in 218 orbits, traveling 5,735.643 miles in 13 days, 18 hours, 13 minutes and 7 seconds.
STS-132 Atlantis (May 14 to May 26, 2010) was the 132nd space shuttle flight and the 32nd shuttle flight to the International Space Station. STS-132 launched from Kennedy Space Center and docked with the station on May 16, 2010, to deliver Rassvet, a Russian-built Mini Research Module (MRM1) to the station. STS-132 shuttle astronauts performed three spacewalks to install a spare antenna and a stowage platform, replace batteries on the P6 truss that store solar energy and retrieve a power data grapple fixture for installation at a later date. They used Atlantis’ robotic arm to remove Rassvet from the shuttle payload bay and hand it to the station robotic arm, Canadarm2, for installation on the Zarya module. The STS-132 mission was completed in 186 orbits, traveling 4,879,978 miles in 11 days, 18 hours, 28 minutes and 2 seconds.
Meet NASA Astronaut James (Jim) Dutton
Details here: http://www.thegodquestion.tv/cosmos
NASA EXPERIENCE: Dutton was selected in May 2004 as one of 14 members of the 19th NASA astronaut class. In February 2006 he completed Astronaut Candidate Training that included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training, T-38 flight training, and water and wilderness survival training. Dutton was initially assigned to the Exploration Branch working on the development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) cockpit and to the Capcom Branch as a shuttle capsule communicator. He served as Ascent/Entry Capcom for STS-122 in February 2008, and STS-123 in March 2008. In 2010 Dutton was the pilot on the crew of STS-131 and has logged over 362 hours in space.
SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-131 Discovery (April 5-20, 2010), a resupply mission to the International Space Station, was launched at night from the Kennedy Space Center. On arrival at the station, Discovery’s crew dropped off more than 27,000 pounds of hardware, supplies and equipment, including a tank full of ammonia coolant that required three spacewalks to hook it up, new crew sleeping quarters, and three experiment racks. On the return journey the MPLM (Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module) inside Discovery’s payload bay was packed with over 6,000 pounds of hardware, science results, and trash. The STS-131 mission was accomplished in 15 days, 02 hours, 47 minutes,10 seconds, and travelled 6,232,235 statute miles in 238 orbits.
25 April 2014
Just before NASA’s latest Moon mission ended last week, an ESA telescope received laser signals from the spacecraft, achieving data speeds like those used by many to watch movies at home via fibre-optic Internet.
During an intense, three-day effort starting on 1 April, ESA’s Optical Ground Station in Spain received data signals via laser from the Moon at the stunning speed of 80 megabits per second.
The signals were transmitted from NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, from a distance of 400 000 km. LADEE completed its seven-month exploration and technology mission on 17 April in a planned impact on the Moon.
The speed is high enough to transmit an entire movie DVD in about eight minutes and is many times faster than provided by traditional radio links used by today’s spacecraft.
Faster than traditional radio
“We had already achieved 40 Mbit/s in our first round of laser communication with LADEE in October, so we’re pretty happy that the final test transmissions were able to double that,” says Klaus-Juergen Schulz, responsible for tracking station engineering at ESA’s ESOC operations centre.
“We also demonstrated that we could transmit laser signals to LADEE and even obtain highly accurate range data, just like our traditional but much larger radio tracking stations can. Overall, the test series has been a big success.”
ESA’s station in Spain’s Canary Islands was equipped with advanced technology developed in Switzerland, France and Denmark that could communicate with LADEE using infrared laser beams.
Ken Willoughby – Space Lectures announces the Next Guest in a fantastic line up of Apollo Astronauts
None other than Apollo 16 Command Module Pilot Thomas ‘Ken’ Mattingly
Great News for Shuttle Fans too as Ken Mattingly was the Commander on Missions STS-4 and STS-51C
Thomas K. Mattingly II (Rear Admiral, USN, Ret.) NASA Astronaut (former)
PERSONAL DATA: Born in Chicago, Illinois, March 17, 1936. One grown son.
EDUCATION: Attended Florida elementary and secondary schools and is a graduate of Miami Edison High School, Miami, Florida; received a bachelor of science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Auburn University in 1958.
ORGANIZATIONS: Associate Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Fellow, American Astronautical Society; and Member, Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and the U.S. Naval Institute.
SPECIAL HONORS: Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal (1982); NASA Distinguished Service Medals (2); JSC Certificate of Commendation (1970); JSC Group Achievement Award (1972); Navy Distinguished Service Medal; Navy Astronaut Wings; SETP Ivan C. Kincheloe Award (1972); Delta Tau Delta Achievement Award (1972); Auburn Alumni Engineers Council Outstanding Achievement Award (1972); AAS Flight Achievement Award for 1972; AIAA Haley Astronautics Award for 1973; Federation Aeronautique Internationale’s V. M. Komarov Diploma in 1973.
EXPERIENCE: Prior to reporting for duty at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, he was a student at the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School.
Mattingly began his Naval career as an Ensign in 1958 and received his wings in 1960. He was then assigned to VA-35 and flew A1H aircraft aboard the USS SARATOGA from 1960 to 1963. In July 1963, he served in VAH-11 deployed aboard the USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT where he flew the A3B aircraft for two years.
NASA EXPERIENCE: Mattingly is one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966.
He served as a member of the astronaut support crews for the Apollo 8 and 11 missions and was the astronaut representative in development and testing of the Apollo spacesuit and backpack (EMU).
He was designated command module pilot for the Apollo 13 flight but was removed from flight status 72 hours prior to the scheduled launch due to exposure to the German measles.
He has logged 7,200 hours of flight time — 5,000 hours in jet aircraft.
From January 1973 to March 1978, Mattingly worked as head of astronaut office support to the STS (Shuttle Transportation System) program. He was next assigned as technical assistant for flight test to the Manager of the Orbital Flight Test Program. From December 1979 to April 1981, he headed the astronaut office ascent/entry group. He subsequently served as backup commander for STS-2 and STS-3, Columbia’s second and third orbital test flights. From June 1983 through May 1984, Mattingly served as Head of the Astronaut Office DOD Support Group.
A veteran of three space flights, Mattingly has logged 504 hours in space, including 1 hour and 13 minutes of EVA (extravehicular activity) during his Apollo 16 flight. He was the command module pilot on Apollo 16 (April 16-27, 1972), was the spacecraft commander on STS-4 (June 26 to July 4, 1982) and STS 51-C (January 24-27, 1985).
Captain Mattingly resigned from NASA in 1985.
SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: Apollo 16 (April 16-27, 1972) was the fifth manned lunar landing mission. The crew included John W. Young (spacecraft commander), Ken Mattingly (command module pilot), and Charles M. Duke, Jr. (lunar module pilot). The mission assigned to Apollo 16 was to collect samples from the lunar highlands at a location near the crater Descartes. While in lunar orbit the scientific instruments aboard the command and service module “Casper” extended the photographic and geochemical mapping of a belt around the lunar equator. Twenty-six separate scientific experiments were conducted both in lunar orbit and during cislunar coast. Major emphasis was placed on using man as an orbital observer capitalizing on the human eye’s unique capabilities and man’s inherent curiosity. Although the mission of Apollo 16 was terminated one day early, due to concern over several spacecraft malfunctions, all major objectives were accomplished through the ceaseless efforts of the mission support team and were made possible by the most rigorous preflight planning yet associated with an Apollo mission.
STS-4, the fourth and final orbital test flight of the Shuttle Columbia, launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 27,1982. Mattingly was the spacecraft commander and Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr., was the pilot. This 7-day mission was designed to: further verify ascent and entry phases of shuttle missions; perform continued studies of the effects of long-term thermal extremes on the Orbiter subsystems; and conduct a survey of Orbiter-induced contamination on the Orbiter payload bay. Additionally, the crew operated several scientific experiments located in the Orbiter’s cabin and in the payload bay. These experiments included the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System experiment designed to investigate the separation of biological materials in a fluid according to their surface electrical charge. This experiment was a pathfinder for the first commercial venture to capitalize on the unique characteristics of space. The crew is also credited with effecting an in-flight repair which enabled them to activate the first operational “Getaway Special” (composed of nine experiments that ranged from algae and duckweed growth in space to fruit fly and brine shrimp genetic studies). STS-4 completed 112 orbits of the Earth before landing on a concrete runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on July 4, 1982.
STS-51C Discovery, the first Space Shuttle Department of Defense mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida on January 24, 1985. The crew included Ken Mattingly (spacecraft commander), Loren Shriver (pilot), Jim Buchli and Ellison Onizuka (mission specialists), and Gary Payton (DOD payload specialist). STS-51C performed its DOD mission which included deployment of a modified Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) vehicle from the Space Shuttle Discovery. Landing occurred on January 27, 1985.
This is the only version available from NASA. Updates must be sought from the above named individual.
Thirty years ago this week the first European-built Spacelab was launched on the Space Shuttle. ESA’s first astronaut, Ulf Merbold, flew on the mission, marking ESA’s entry into human spaceflight.
On 28 November 1983 at 11:00 local time, the ninth Space Shuttle mission was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA.
The six astronauts on Spacelab-1 worked in two teams on 12-hour shifts, allowing for continuous operations. They performed over 70 experiments in solar physics, space plasma physics, astronomy, Earth observation, material science, technology and life sciences.
After circling Earth 166 times in just over 10 days, Space Shuttle Columbia landed back on Earth on 8 December.
Spacelab was a cooperation between ESA and NASA, with Europe responsible for funding, designing and building Spacelab and agreeing to deliver free of charge the engineering model, the first flight unit and ground equipment in return for a shared first mission.
In preparation for Spacelab, ESA Member States in 1978 put forward 53 astronaut candidates, and four were selected: Ulf Merbold of Germany, Wubbo Ockels of the Netherlands, Claude Nicollier of Switzerland and Franco Malerba of Italy.
Ulf was selected for the first Spacelab mission, with Wubbo as backup. Wubbo flew on the Spacelab-D1 mission in 1985.
Between 1983 and 1998, Spacelab modules flew on the Space Shuttle 22 times and totalled 244 days in orbit. Experiments surveyed the possibilities of weightless research in many scientific areas that led to space-age metals used in mass-produced smartphones and revealed areas of space research that show promise in treating chronic muscle diseases.
Many of Spacelab’s features live on in space hardware that is flying above us today. The pressure shell was reused for the Harmony and Tranquility modules on the International Space Station, and supply spacecraft, such as ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicles and the commercial Cygnus, reuse Spacelab’s exterior structure.
Europe’s Columbus laboratory on the Station evolved from Spacelab. On the inside, Spacelab used standardised science racks that contributed to its success and were adopted for all of the Station’s laboratory modules.
In the same way that Spacelab was operated by international teams of astronauts, so are today’s European experiments and laboratories on the Station. They are kept running and performing science by the Station’s permanent crew – which now includes European astronauts.