Astronaut Tim Peake – BIS London February 5th 2013

Astronaut Tim Peake – BIS London February 5th 2013

ESA Astronaut training and human spaceflight plans for the next decade.

ESA Astronauts - New

Speaker: Tim PeakeDate: 5 February 2013
Start Time: 7 pm
End Time: 8:30 pm

Venue: 27/29 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1SZ

Since his selection in 2009 for astronaut training with the European Space Agency, Major Tim Peake has experienced weightlessness, spent 12 days under the ocean simulating a mission to an asteroid, lived in a Sardinian cave for a week and much more. In his talk Tim will give a unique insight into what it takes to prepare for space flight and the challenges awaiting Human Spaceflight beyond the International Space Station.

Link for booking


Italy’s Luca Parmitano flying high


7 September 2012
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is set to fly to the International Space Station in 2013, and his mission came a step a closer with the unveiling of his mission name and mission patch today.
Luca will spend six months on the International Space Station on Expedition 36/37 under an agreement with Italy’s ASI space agency and NASA.

A competition was opened for Italian residents to suggest a mission name and logo. Luca took time out from his busy training schedule in the run-up to his mission to present the winning entries.


ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano
Luca Parmitano

32 year-old Norberto Cioffi sent in the winning mission name ‘Volare’, meaning ‘to fly’ in Italian. The name symbolises the search for new frontiers and opportunities for discovery.

The winning logo was designed by 28-year-old Ilaria Sardella from San Giorgio Ionico in Southern Italy.

The logo was chosen because it contains many elements of Luca’s mission: the Soyuz spacecraft that will fly him to the orbital outpost, the Station itself and the colours of the Italian flag.


Luca Parmitano during EVA training
Luca spacewalk training

The orbits represent humans’ desire to travel beyond Earth and the Sun as well as our curiosity for knowledge. Both winners of the competition will travel to Star City to follow Luca’s training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow, Russia.

The winners were announced at an event in Rome with Luca and the president of ASI.

Luca joined ESA’s astronaut corps in 2009. Follow the astronaut’s blog for regular updates on his training as well as updates from other ESA astronauts.

ESA astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Tim Peake at Farnborough Air Show

ESA astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Tim Peake are appearing at the Farnborough Air Show on Friday 13th July.

Farnborough 2012 Website.

Always check with event organisers before making final arrangements.

ESA Astronaut Paolo Nespoli: Photo credit ESA.

ESA Astronaut Paolo Nespoli

ESA Astronaut Time Peake : Photo credit ESA

ESA Astronaut Tim Peake websize

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti set for Space Station in 2014

Samantha Cristoforetti EVA training at JSC
Underwater training

3 July 2012
PR 20 2012 – ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has been assigned to be launched on a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in 2014 for a long-duration mission aboard the International Space Station.
ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations, Thomas Reiter, and the International Space Station partners board have released the official assignment for the European–Italian flight.

Italy’s space agency, ASI, proposed Samantha for this mission of 6–7 months.


Samantha GRT training
Robotics training

“It is a great satisfaction to see the third astronaut of the 2009 recruited class assigned to a mission to space,” said Director Reiter.

Samantha completed basic training in 2010. She is now training on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, Station systems, robotics and spacewalks. Samantha, a captain in the Italian Air Force, has logged more than 500 hours of flying time on six types of military aircraft.


Samantha Cristoforetti EVA training at JSC
Spacewalk training

“The past three years as a European astronaut have been an amazing time of personal and professional growth,” said Samantha after receiving the news of her assignment.

“I am now thrilled to continue this journey with the goal of serving Italy and Europe as a crewmember of the International Space Station.

“I am grateful to the Italian space agency, the European Space Agency and the Italian Air Force for this humbling opportunity and I will try my best to be worthy of their trust.

“As the privileged temporary inhabitants of humanity’s outpost in space, we will make every effort to share the orbital perspective and virtually take along all those who want to join our journey.”

As a member of ESA’s Astronaut Corps, Samantha will undergo extensive training in preparation for this mission at the various facilities in the US, Russia, Japan, Canada and Germany at the European Astronaut Centre, home of the European Astronaut Corps.


ESA astronauts
ESA astronauts new recruits

She will work on the Station as part of the six-astronaut international crew. This will be the eighth long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut.

When not in training, Samantha enjoys hiking, scuba diving and interacting with space enthusiasts on blogs and twitter as @astrosamantha

ESA’s astronauts are heavily involved in Station operations. André Kuipers, from the Netherlands, returned from the Station on Sunday. Italy’s Luca Parmitano and Germany’s Alexander Gerst are training for long-duration missions beginning with launches in May 2013 and May 2014, respectively.

Tim Peake at the RAL Oxford May 11th 2012

ESA astronaut Timothy Peake, from the United Kingdom, training with the Soyuz simulator in Star City

We attended the evening lecture at the RAL, a standing room only event; a packed house with an audience of all ages. Tim gave a lecture of approximately one hour (it has been recorded and will be available ASAP on the STFC website).

Plenty of space images and a few short video clips interspersed with a well-informed presentation. Tim described being an astronaut as the best job in the world. He is excited with the challenges so far encountered the ones yet to come. His enthusiasm was infectious. He left Houston yesterday to be here today fresh from aquatic adventures.

A great Q&A session with most of the good questions from the younger members of the audience, as well as the recurrent how does one go to the loo in space? (All very English don’t you know).

Its sounds like he’d had a busy day starting at 8.00 a.m. with schools competitions and visits along with the 1.00 p.m. lecture and the one tonight.

Congrats to cS’er Ollie (now a proud Dad to son Connor) with the newborn’s space autograph collection officially started. Rob Synge was also present.

Tim stayed for photo ops, autographs and short conversations with all.

A great evening, thanks Tim and the staff at the RAL/STFC Talking Science Team.



André’s blog: from doctor to guinea pig

Having a lunch in Space Station mockup
Having a lunch in Space Station mockup

15 December 2011
ESA astronaut André Kuipers has spent many months preparing for his next mission – travelling, training, stuck in quarantine and a guinea pig for medical experiments. For the last six months, André has been writing a blog in his native Dutch, but now entries are also available in English.
To summarise the blog in one word: training.

Everything that André will do on his PromISSe mission to the International Space Station – scheduled for launch on 21 December – is planned in minute detail. All the possible situations have to be thought of and emergencies practised endlessly with the other astronauts.

Now André is providing an insider’s view of his world through his blog texts in English.

As a medical doctor, André started his career at ESA running medical experiments on pilots and astronauts. During the PromISSe mission, however, he will be the one facing some experiments.

He has been extensively measured and probed over the last few months to build a reference for studying his changes in the weightless conditions in space.

André’s reaction times have been recorded, his blood pressure monitored over 24 hours and his muscle strength measured by applying electrical shocks to his calf muscles.

He even had a small piece of muscle surgically removed for analysis.

Most of these tests will be done again in space, and then repeated once back on Earth – something to look forward to after his long stay on the Space Station.


On the plane to Baikonur
On the plane to Baikonur

During his five-month mission, ESA’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle, ATV Edoardo Amaldi, will deliver supplies to André and his crewmates. Russian and American spacecraft will also arrive and depart.

Unpacking and stowing cargo needs to be handled meticulously, otherwise they could lose track of essential supplies. Four whole days are booked for ATV unloading – and this requires weeks of training on Earth.

In between all the travelling, training and medical experiments, André had to find time to keep his Russian language skills up to date – a requirement for working on the Station and acting as a flight engineer on the Soyuz spacecraft.

You might think that the launch delay from November would allow André some more time to visit his family and relax, but the extra time is being used for refresher training in the various space centres.

André’s blog in English:

André is ‘go for launch’ and has arrived to Baikonur

Arrival to Baikonur
Arrival to Baikonur

9 December 2011
ESA astronaut André Kuipers is now officially ready for liftoff on 21 December: he and his crewmates have passed their final exams and left for the launch site yesterday. Along with André’s plane, his PromISSe mission blog also took off yesterday.
Every crew destined for the International Space Station must endure two days of final exams in the simulators at Star City near Moscow before they are cleared for flight.

And it is not a formality — they have to show they can control their Soyuz spacecraft and handle the Station in all situations.


Selecting the envelope prior the simulation
Selecting the envelope prior the simulation

The crew and their backups must cope with a multitude of problems, chosen blindly in sealed envelopes that morning.

André’s Soyuz simulation started with a broken radio transmitter, forcing them to fly solo without hearing a word from Earth.

Then the automatic horizon sensors failed and they had to control their craft’s attitude themselves.

Finally, just before docking, the Soyuz radar took unexpected leave and the trio had to continue manually.


Ceremony at the Russian Federal Space Agency
Ceremony at the Russian Federal Space Agency

The simulated return to Earth wasn’t any easier: real smoke suddenly appeared in their capsule, forcing them to close their helmets, switch the ventilation on and electricity off. They had to purge all the air from the capsule to kill the fire.

Then the braking engine shut off too soon and they had to calculate how long to fire the smaller backup engines.

Finally, the computer refused to turn off the thrusters and they had to do it manually.

If you can handle simulated missions like those, the real flights feel like holiday cruises.


Before departure to Baikonur
Before departure to Baikonur

Final weeks before launch
After passing their exams, the crew began following the traditions that have been part of every human space mission from Baikonur for decades, with roots going back to Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering 1961 flight.

One of these was visiting Gagarin’s office after the exam results were formally approved. The room in Star City has been left as it was since the day Gagarin died.

André and his crewmates wrote a brief salute in the guest book and then continued to Red Square to lay flowers by the Kremlin wall to commemorate fallen cosmonauts.

The crew’s plane took off yesterday at 10.01 local time in Moscow for Baikonur for final preparations and quarantine before their launch, scheduled for 21 December.

Follow André’s blog, tweets and diary
Following an ESA space mission has never been easier. André is tweeting on @astro_andre and writing his own mission diary in Dutch (‘Logboek’). You can now also read his entries soon in English.

A special mission blog was also launched yesterday: the PromISSe blog covers everything around the mission and it’s also an ideal way to post questions and comments.

It is almost like flying with André into space!

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst to fly to Space Station in 2014

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has been assigned to fly to the International Space Station on a 6-month mission in 2014, serving as a flight engineer for Expeditions 40 and 41.

Alexander is the second of the new group of European astronauts, which graduated last November, to be assigned to a mission.

He will be launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in May 2014, returning to Earth in November 2014.

After conquering remote mountains and working in Antarctica, the 35 year-old geophysicist and volcanologist will become the third German to visit the Station.

He will be accompanied by Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin, as Soyuz commander, and NASA astronaut G. Reid Wiseman.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronaut Steven Swanson will also share part of the mission with Alexander as members of Expeditions 39 and 40.

Alexander’s flight will be the sixth long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut.

“ESA Member States have decided to extend their support to the exploitation of the International Space Station up to 2020,” said Thomas Reiter, ESA’s Director for Human Spaceflight and Operations.

“The appointment of the new group of European astronauts to long-duration missions reflects the commitment of Member States.

“Alexander Gerst will pursue the European goals in a long fruitful German tradition.

“He will now get ready for the challenges ahead in 2014 … and beyond”

Alexander says, “It is a great honour for me to get the chance to contribute to the long tradition of European and German space flight.

“This mission will be a positive challenge not only for me but for all the dedicated people working at ESA and the national space agencies, who make spaceflight possible through their passion and fascination.

“I am looking forward to flying to space on the shoulders of this gigantic team, to the boundaries of our capabilities and knowledge in order to venture out a little further and to shine some more light into the darkness.

“And just as much I am looking forward to returning to Earth six months later with a wide variety of important scientific knowledge and a new perspective on our planet, which I will then gladly share with you.”

Busy time ahead

Alexander has completed pre-assignment training in Russia, the US and Canada.

Based at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, he will spend much of his time training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and at Star City, Moscow.

The next European to venture into space will be Andre Kuipers, who will be launched to the Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft not later than 26 December, according to the latest tentative manifest.

Next up will be Luca Parmitano, the first to be assigned from the new group of ESA astronauts. His mission, a flight opportunity provided by the Italian space agency, is planned to begin in May 2013.

All three ESA astronauts will stay aboard the Space Station for almost six months and work as flight engineers. Their responsibilities will include Station maintenance and scientific research, and possibly robotics and spacewalking activities.

UK astronaut resurfaces from ‘cave’ training


Preparing for the ‘Caves’ mission in April

21 September 2011
ESA’s UK astronaut Tim Peake together with fellow astronauts Thomas Pesquet from France, Randolph Bresnik from NASA, Norishige Kanai from Japan and Sergey Ryzhikov from Russia have been living and working in the dark and humid cave environment since 17 September – a unique training experience, organised by ESA, to prepare them for space.
Cave training is a new challenge for astronauts. Being cut off from the outside world with minimal privacy, new technical challenges and limited hygiene and comfort present a number of psychological issues for those involved. The use of artificial light in constant darkness alters the perception of time and of colour and the absence of natural time cues from daylight may affect the circadian rhythm and sleep patterns.
CAVES 2011 – a 6-day course to prepare astronauts for space

Similarly to long-duration space missions, the daily routine for the trainees is organised around timelines, decided twice daily by phone with a supporting ‘ground’ team at the cave’s entrance.

Mission tasks include mapping, photography, geological and microbiological sampling. The training might also provide valuable material for scientists studying these caves – many of them unmapped or unexplored. Sampling methods for future planetary missions are also benefitting, along with psychological and medical studies.


Today, 21 September, the trainees will emerge into the daylight, and will go through debriefings similar to those that follow an astronaut’s return from a space mission.