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Astronauts break bread with school kids
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Arrow  European astronauts joined school children for breakfast at the Earth & Space Expo on 12 February 2005, in Brussels. The doors of the Expo were open to the public for the first time, and attendance, say EC officials, has already been far higher than expected.

André Kuipers demonstrates eating in space, on Earth
André Kuipers demonstrates eating in space, on Earth
For Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, the aim of the Earth & Space Expo is to inspire and excite young people while stimulating European policy-makers to support competiteveness-building space activities. The inspiration of European young people was certainly on the agenda on opening day as eight European Space Agency astronauts welcomed over 50 school kids to breakfast.

Jean-Francois Clervoy, Gerhard Thiele, Frank de Winne, Pedro Duque, Christer Fuglesang, Paolo Nespoli, André Kuipers and Reinhold Ewald sat down with children from Belgium and other European countries for yoghurt, rolls and some slightly less conventional fare.

“Space food is not too bad,” said Frank de Winne as he unrolled a funny-looking shrink-wrapped pack of... “What is that?” said the girl sitting next to him. “This looks like spaghetti,” said de Winne, reading a small white label on the package. “Oh yes, it’s spaghetti. It doesn’t look like much now, but, in space, it’s one of our favorite meals.”

The Earth & Space Expo opens its doors
The Earth & Space Expo opens its doors

“I like my job”

Astronaut Pedro Duque said, “Being an astronaut is hard work. You are busy most of the time when you’re in space, but there are also moments to stop and think, to look out of the window and realise how incredible it is to be in space, looking down on our planet. That, by itself, is reward enough for all the hard work and training. Yes, I do like my job.”

Meet the astronauts

Jean-Francois Clervoy
Jean-Francois Clervoy
Jean-Francois Clervoy

Born on 19 November 1958 in Longeville-les-Metz, France, he flew twice aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis and once aboard Discovery for a total of 675 hours in space.

Frank de Winne
Frank de Winne
Frank de Winne

In October and November 2002, de Winne participated in the Odissea Mission, a support flight to the International Space Station (ISS). He served as Flight Engineer on the newly designed Soyuz TMA spacecraft during ascent, and on Soyuz TM during reentry. He was born in Ghent, Belgium, on 25 April 1961.

Pedro Duque
Pedro Duque
Pedro Duque

In 2003, Pedro Duque participated in the Cervantes Mission. During this 10-day mission to the ISS, Duque served as Flight Engineer on the Soyuz-TMA, launching with the Expedition Eight crew and returning with Expedition Seven.

Born 14 March 1963 in Madrid, Spain.

Reinhold Ewald
Reinhold Ewald
Reinhold Ewald

Ewald flew as a research cosmonaut on the Russian Soyuz TM 25 vehicle and spent 18 days on board the Mir Space Station. He was born on 18 December 1956 in Mönchengladbach, Germany.

Christer Fuglesang
Christer Fuglesang
Christer Fuglesang

Born on 18 March 1957 in Stockholm, Sweden, he will be the first Swedish astronaut to travel into space, expected to fly aboard a Space Shuttle mission in the near future.

André Kuipers
André Kuipers
André Kuipers

Born on 5 October 1958 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Kuipers was Flight Engineer for a Soyuz flight to the ISS in April 2004, participating in the Delta Mission.

Paolo Nespoli
Paolo Nespoli
Paolo Nespoli

Nespoli is currently working at NASA's astronaut office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Born on 6 April 1957 in Milan, Italy, he is awaiting his first spaceflight assignment.

Gerhard Thiele
Gerhard Thiele
Gerhard Thiele

In February 2000, Thiele was Mission Specialist on the STS-99 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, dedicated to the first, three-dimensional, digital mapping of the Earth surface on a nearly global scale. He was born on 2 September 1953 in Heidenheim-Brenz, Germany.

 

Fun for kids at the Expo
Fun for kids at the Expo

Who will be next in space?

“Of course, I would like to go back into space as soon as possible” said de Winne, “and for a longer stay, but there are others in our group who have not been up yet and who deserve a chance, and they have priority.”

Roberto Vittori, currently undergoing intensive training in Star City, Russia, is scheduled to be the next European astronaut in space. He will travel to the ISS aboard a Soyuz rocket in April 2005. He is to be followed in June 2005 by Thomas Reiter, currently training in Texas. Reiter will be a member of the first American shuttle mission to lift off since the Columbia disaster in 2003.



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