European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst was sent on his second mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on June 6th, along with two fellow crew members, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Russian spacecraft commander, Sergey Prokopyev, using a Soyuz MS-09 rocket. The 3 astronauts reached the ISS on June 8th. Everybody at Thales Alenia Space wishes Alexander Gerst and his “space colleagues” all the best.
Alexander will be participating in Expeditions 56 and 57, taking over as commander of the Space Station during the second part of this mission, dubbed “Horizons”. The name is aptly chosen, since it comes packed with science. Alexander will explore new horizons in human and robotic spaceflight, with the aim of conducting more than 50 experiments in orbit. The European-built Columbus laboratory will be like his home away from home during the following months.
Alexander will be managing a number of operations in the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL), a multiuser facility designed by ESA and developed by Thales Alenia Space to conduct fluid physics research in microgravity. In particular, Alex will replace the Video Management Unit (VMU) and will also be involved in the Soft Matter Dynamics (SMD) experiment, developed by Airbus Defence & Space, with the support of Thales Alenia Space for development of the engineering model and ground testing.
Half of the ISS's pressurized volume built by Thales Alenia Space
The International Space Station holds a special place in the hearts of Thales Alenia Space’s engineers. The company has provided fully half of the pressurized volume on the ISS, including Nodes 2 and 3, the Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), Multipurpose Logistics Modules (MPLM), Cupola, Columbus lab structure, and cargo modules for the ATV resupply vessels. Thales Alenia Space also builds, on behalf of Orbital ATK, the pressurized cargo modules (PCM) for the Cygnus resupply vessels. The latest Cygnus reached the ISS on May 24; it will spend about seven weeks docked to the Space Station before being loaded with waste in July and sent back Earthwards in a destructive reentry.
Photos 1, 2 & 3: © ESA/NASA
Artistic view of the ISS (blue one): ©Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes