Paris, 08 Oct 2003
Starting on Monday 20 October donations will be accepted to bid for three very special sets of euro banknotes and 15 national sets of euro coins: all were flown on board the International Space Station (ISS) during the Belgian Soyuz mission Odissea in October 2002.
In October last year ESA astronaut Frank De Winne spent eight days on board the ISS for the Odissea Mission. The Belgian Federal Science Policy Office provided the funding for this flight and the related experimental programme. Together with an intensive programme of over 20 experiments in the fields of life and physical sciences and education, he carried a package of three complete sets of euro banknotes and 15 complete national sets of euro coins provided by the European Central Bank.
"The European Central Bank is proud to supply a full set of euro coins from each of the eurozone countries and full sets of banknotes for the mission to the International Space Station", said Willem F. Duisenberg, President of the European Central Bank, "I hope these coins and banknotes will subsequently raise a substantial sum, to be used for educational purposes, since education is the key to our future."
Previously signed by the ECB President, the banknotes were stamped by Frank De Winne on the Space Station with the official ISS stamp and the Odissea mission stamp. Since their return to Earth, all sets of banknotes and coins have been certified by the ESA astronaut as having been on board the ISS.
The Euro from Space initiative is the first step in a campaign to raise money for the ISS Education Fund set up by ESA to encourage students from its 15 member states to study, understand and support science and technology in future by using the exciting resources of space. The Fund will support the ISS Education Programme, which is developing, producing and disseminating teaching materials in all 11 ESA languages for primary and secondary school students.
In cooperation with the European Central Bank, ESA has organised Euro from Space to provide an opportunity to make donations to the ISS Education Fund.
"The future belongs to knowledge-based societies", explains Jörg Feustel-Büechl, Director of the ESA Human Spaceflight Directorate. "Fully aware of this, ESA spends a considerable amount on education. The first euro sets to have travelled in space are unique symbols of the importance for Europe of investing in the education of its youth."
When the time limit expires the top 18 donors will each receive from ESA and the European Central Bank one of the euro sets taken to the ISS by Frank De Winne, in the following order: the three highest bidders will receive a set of banknotes (each containing 7 banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros); the next 15 will receive a set of coins (each containing 8 coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and 1 and 2 euros). The coins will be distributed in this predetermined order: Vatican, Monaco, San Marino, Ireland, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Greece, Spain, Germany, Italy, France.
ESA astronaut Frank De Winne comments, "I am honoured to be part of this initiative, a contribution helping students to develop their knowledge of space activities and to build the European space community of the future."
For more information on the Euro from Space initiative, visit: http:///www.esa.int/issef
Directorate of Human Spaceflight
European Space Agency
Noordwijk (the Netherlands)
Phone: +31 71 565 3163
Fax: +31 71 565 5232
ESA Media Relations Service