ESA's Belgian astronaut on way to Space Station in new Soyuz spacecraft

October 31, 2002

Paris, 30 Oct 2002

The fourth taxi flight to the International Space Station carrying a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut and two Russian crew members made a perfect lift-off today (Wednesday, 30 October 2002) from the vast open plains of Baikonur, Kazakhstan, into the rising sun at 08:11 local time (04:11 Central European Time, 03:11 Universal Time).

ESA astronaut Frank De Winne, a former Belgian Air Force pilot, and his fellow crew members, Soyuz Mission Commander Sergei Zaletin and Soyuz Flight Engineer Yuri Lonchakov, are due to dock with the Space Station in two days' time on Friday, 1 November at 06:00 CET (05:00 UT). The hatch between the Soyuz spacecraft and the Space Station will be opened at 07:30 CET (06:30 UT).

The crew are flying a new Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft, a modified and updated version of the TM-34 Soyuz capsule currently attached to the Space Station.

It will remain attached to the Space Station for six months - acting as a rescue vehicle for the resident crew in case of an onboard emergency.

Soyuz Flight Engineer De Winne, the first Belgian astronaut to visit the Space Station and the first non-Russian ever to fly on the first flight of a new Russian vehicle, is the fourth European astronaut to visit the Station.

During his eight-day stay, De Winne will carry out a programme of 23 experiments in the fields of life and physical sciences and education, including four physical science experiments using the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) - an important research facility designed and developed in Europe.

De Winne's hopes for the mission extend beyond the success of the new Soyuz spacecraft delivery and the programme of experiments. They also encompass the desire to see space made real and exciting for young people.

"During the mission I will be involved in a variety of educational activities. It is important to talk directly to our young people - we need to make space, technology and science interesting and relevant to them," he said.

The Odissea crew will head back to Earth on board the older TM-34 Soyuz currently attached to the Space Station. Landing in Kazakhstan is scheduled for Sunday, 10 November 2002 at 05:03 local time (01:03 CET, 00:03 UT).

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Service

Tel: +33 (0)1.5369.7155

Fax: +33 (0)1.5369.7690

European Space Agency ml

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