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ESA's Next Astronaut: André Kuipers.


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ESA's Next Astronaut.
ESA's Next Astronaut: André Kuipers: Image credit: ESA.

The European Space Agency provided new details about the next Soyuz flight to the International Space Station, and their astronaut, André Kuipers. The Soyuz will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in April 2004, carrying Kuipers and the crew for Expedition 9. Kuipers hails from the Netherlands, and as with previous ESA astronauts, he will only spend a week on the station, performing a series of scientific experiments and observations.

The Dutch Ministers of Economical Affairs and of Education, Culture and Science have announced the mission name of the next Soyuz flight to the International Space Station, which has Dutch ESA Astronaut André Kuipers serving as flight engineer. This mission has been christened 'DELTA'.

Flanked by Kuipers and ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight, Mr Jörg Feustel-BÜechl, on Tuesday Ministers Brinkhorst and Van der Hoeven unveiled the mission logo and also announced the experiments to be performed by Kuipers during his stay on board the International Space Station (ISS).

Kuipers will launch on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in April 2004 to spend more than a week on ISS. While there he will carry out an extensive programme of scientific, technological and educational experiments as part of the DELTA mission. These experiments are sponsored by Dutch Ministries and therefore have a Dutch character.

The mission name DELTA refers to the experiments to be performed during the flight. DELTA is the acronym for "Dutch Expedition for Life science, Technology and Atmospheric research". It also refers to the Delta Works, the network of dykes and dams that protect the Netherlands province of Zeeland from sea flooding.

During the press conference it was explained that Kuipers would perform experiments in the areas of biology, medical science, technology, physics and Earth observation.

Special attention will be given to educational activities during the flight. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science announced a special experiment called "Seeds in Space". School children on Earth and Kuipers in space will simultaneously grow the same species of lettuce. The question this experiment seeks to answer whether the lettuce's growth will be in the direction of light or forced by gravity.

ESA has also organised a Dutch website project that will allow pupils of selected schools to chat with Kuipers by radio during his flight.

Mission DELTA will be overseen by ESA and is made possible by funding of the Dutch Ministries of Economical Affairs and of Education, Culture and Science.




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