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Luca Parmitano returns to the International Space Station

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Luca Parmitano returns to the International Space Station

Luca Parmitano in his Sokol spacesuit

Luca Parmitano returns to the International Space Station

21 July 2019

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano arrived at the International Space Station for his "Beyond" mission, marking the beginning of Expedition 60.

Luca and his crewmates, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, traveled for six hours on their Soyuz MS-13 aircraft.

They were launched into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 20, 2019, 18:28 CEST, and docked at the Station at 00:50:40 CEST on July 21. After docking, the crew performed full seal checks before being boarded by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague, along with Russian cosmonaut and current Space Station commander Alexei Ovchinin at 03:04 CEST on July 21. .


Luca Parmitano returns to the International Space Station

Luca Parmitano trains for Beyond mission at EAC

Over the next six months, Luca will conduct more than 50 European experiments as well as 200 international experiments. These include investigations into how aspects of the human body are affected by microgravity and how astronauts could control robots remotely during lunar exploration.

When Alexei Ovchinin leaves Space Station at the end of Expedition 60, Luca will also assume the role of Commander of Space Station for Expedition 61. This is the third time a European astronaut and the first time an ESA astronaut from Italy, will occupy this position. Luca will follow ESA astronauts Frank De Winne (2009) and Alexander Gerst (2018) when taking charge later this year.

Frank, who is now director of ESA's astronaut center in Cologne, Germany, says Luca's appointment as commander reflects ESA's position among international space agencies: “People can trust us and trust us. even in us, ”he said. “Not just in terms of the equipment we provide – for the Space Station and the service module for Orion aircraft, but also in the area of ​​crew operations. I think it is a very good result of the investment that ESA Member States make. ”

Focus the moon


Luca Parmitano returns to the International Space Station

BioRock

With the launch 50 years after Apollo's first moon landing, it is appropriate that Luca works on experiments designed to help the future of space exploration.

These experiments include BioRock, which aims to help scientists understand whether microbes used to "biomine" on Earth could also work on other planetary bodies and examine how communities of microorganisms grow on rocks in space.

Luca will also test and operate ESA Life Support, designed to recycle carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen as part of ESA's goal to enable astronauts to live independently of Earth on a sustainable basis. It will also operate an Earth-based rover from the International Space Station, testing remote operations that could be applied to the moon.

The results of these experiments will support ESA's contribution to the lunar portal and the Heracles to the Moon mission in ongoing work with international partners.

“What happened today is part of our journey to the moon,” said ESA Director General Jan Wörner. “Together with our international partners, we are excited to be part of a new generation of space explorers, providing research opportunities and access to space for all our Member States.”

Move into space

Luca has also been preparing for spacewalks, working with field teams to develop new procedures and tools for repairing the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02).

Installed outside the Space Station in 2011, AMS-02 is a particle detector that collects cosmic rays to help scientists understand dark matter and antimatter. Initially it was supposed to work in space for only three years, but it was so successful in its mission that its life was extended. To allow this to happen, three of its four cooling pumps require repair, involving a challenging spacewalk.

Beyond Mission


Luca Parmitano returns to the International Space Station

ICE Cubes in Columbus

Luca's activities during the Beyond mission are part of ESA's long-term vision of sending the first Europeans beyond Earth's orbit and establishing Europe as a key partner in humanity's exploration of the Solar System.

Working with international partners, ESA seeks to bring new knowledge, innovation and inspiration to all European citizens and increase accessibility for researchers through new Space Station facilities such as the International Commercial Experiments (ICE Cubes) service. ) installed on the Columbus module in 2018.

“What we are learning in Earth's low orbit will allow the next generation to go further and continue to explore. In order to return to the moon and Mars, we must know how to survive and operate in these worlds. That's where the Space Station comes into play, ”says Luca.

Latest Luca Updates

The first European press conference with Luca, live from the Space Station, is scheduled for July 29 at the Leonardo di Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, Italy. This will be open to European media and will be broadcast live.

Further updates from the Beyond mission will be posted online at: http://lucaparmitano.esa.int/

For more information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Office
+ 31-71-5656409
Electronic Mail: media@esa.int

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