On August 22, 2104, a special event was hold at the European Astronaut Center (EAC) of ESA, in Cologne, Germany. ESA had called social media activists around the world to submit questions they would like to ask the German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst on board the International Space Station during a live call. Based on these submitted questions and the social media activities of the applicants 40 participants were selected to take part in this event. For some reason I do not know exacly I was one of these lucky selected ones. 😉
The program of this @social4space event with the name #callAlex had a few nice surprises for us. After a short welcome ceremony we were invited to visit the futurustic Envihab facility of the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine. At this laboratory the influence of microgravity and other characteristics of living in space on the human body are investigated. A four-person centrifuge is available to simulate different levels of gravity. Bed rest studies can be conducted in some of the rooms of the facility.
Many other investigations are possible in the envihab. Among other things astronauts can be checked there after their spaceflights. Alexander Gerst will be the first ESA astronaut that will not go to Moscow or Houston for post flight medical checks – his checks will be done at the Envihab.
If you want to know more about the envihab please check this website:
The next event was a conversation with the director of the EAC – ESA astronaut Frank de Winne. He gave some interesting insights in the life of an astronaut. It was remarkable to learn how the flight into space is changing the perspective to see things that happen down on Earth. Especially in times like the current ones with many violent events going on worldwide you could wish that many more people could experience this change of perspective. I have recorded parts of the conversation with Frank de Winne. Please have a look at this link if you want to see and hear more:
The next event was a conversation with two individuals working at EAC in a position called Eurocom. In the US this job is called Capcom. These are persons that talk to the astronauts in space, for instance to guide the astronauts performing experiments in space.
Finally, the time was right for the main event to begin – the in-flight call with astronaut Alexander Gerst on board the ISS. And here is the event recorded with two different cameras:
What a nice chat with Alexander Gerst (a.k.a. @Astro_Alex on Twitter)! Thanks a lot, Alexander! It was a pleasure for all of us. 😉
The final part of the event was a guided tour of the EAC building with stops at the training mock-ups of the ESA Columbus module and the ATV and an Eurocom console, among other things. Please follow me on this interesting tour:
What an fantastic and interesting event with a lot of insight in the human spaceflight activities of ESA! A big, big thank you to all the organizers! It was a blast! More of this kind of events please! ESA is standing strong at the moment! How was this other space agency called – NA… something – I do not remember it anymore … 😉