European Space Agency
From the beginnings of the ‘space age’, Europe has
been actively involved in spaceflight. Today it
launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation,
telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to
the far reaches of the Solar System, and cooperates in
the human exploration of space.
Space is a key asset for Europe, providing essential
information needed by decision-makers to respond to
global challenges. Space provides indispensable
technologies and services, and increases our
understanding of our planet and the Universe. Since
1975, the European Space Agency (ESA) has been
shaping the development of this space capability.
By pooling the resources of 20 Member States, ESA
undertakes programmes and activities far beyond the
scope of any single European country, developing the
launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to
keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
The Member States are: 18 states of the EU
(Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy,
Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal,
Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom)
plus Norway and Switzerland.
Eight other EU states have Cooperation Agreements
with ESA: Estonia, Slovenia, Hungary, Cyprus, Latvia,
Lithuania, Malta and the Slovak Republic. Bulgaria is
negotiating a Cooperation Agreement. Canada takes
part in some programmes under a Cooperation
→ SIX MONTHS ON THE
International Space Station
A new generation of European astronauts is ready to
travel to space. Luca Parmitano will be the first of ESA’s
new astronauts to live and work on a fully operational
International Space Station (ISS) for almost half a year.
The Italian astronaut will be launched from Baikonur,
Kazakhstan on 29 May 2013 on a Soyuz rocket with
Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA
astronaut Karen Nyberg.
Luca will serve as flight engineer on the Station for
Expeditions 36 and 37. He recently qualified as a European
astronaut and was proposed by Italy’s space agency
ASI for this mission, named Volare.
Luca will be the fourth Italian citizen to fly to the Space
Station and Volare will be ESA’s fifth long-duration
Space Station mission. During the 166-day mission he
will take part in around 20 ESA experiments covering
a range of disciplines: human physiology, fluid
physics, materials science, biology, radiation and solar
research, as well as technology demonstrations. Luca’s
research activities will encompass areas as diverse as
understanding how our biological clock ticks to casting
Most of the experiments are carried out in Europe’s
Columbus laboratory, a world-class research platform
that produces valuable scientific results for Earth-bound
citizens. Luca will not only perform experiments for
ESA, but also more than 20 experiments for the US,
Canadian and Japanese space agencies which require
using almost 30 research facilities in space.
We have different roles
according to the task of
the day − we are the
plumbers, the engineers,
the scientists, the cooks
and the pilots aboard.
Luca ParmitanoStars taken with a long exposure from
the International Space Station in 2012
One of the highlights of the Volare mission is Luca’s
involvement in robotic operations to receive unmanned
vehicles. Commanding the Station’s principal robotic arm,
he will participate in docking of the fourth Japanese HTV.
He will also support the complex berthing operations
of the Dragon (SpaceX) and Cygnus (Orbital Sciences)
cargo vehicles as part of NASA’s commercial resupply
Luca will have several assignments in his role as flight
engineer on the Station. He will be in charge of logistics
operations on Europe’s cargo ferry ATV Albert Einstein,
including system monitoring and commanding the
European spacecraft. ATV is the largest servicing vehicle
for the Station. Apart from delivering more than six
tonnes of essential cargo, it will regularly reboost
Volare evokes Italy,
my background as a pilot,
and my trip to the Station.
It is part of my lifestyle.
Volare key data
Launch site Baikonur, Kazakhstan
Launch date 29 May 2013
Docking 6 hours after launch
Landing 10 November 2013
Launch/landing vehicle Soyuz TMA-09M
Launcher Soyuz FG
Mission duration 166 days
(Status as of February 2013)
Mission name and logo
The mission name and its logo were selected after
two competitions were held for Italian citizens,
organised by ASI. Volare means ‘to fly’ in Italian,
a word made famous by the song ‘Nel blu dipinto
di blu’ by Domenico Modugno. The winning name,
proposed by 32 year-old engineer Norberto Cioffi,
symbolises the search for new frontiers and
opportunities for discovery.
The logo shows many elements of Luca’s mission:
the Soyuz spacecraft that will fly him to the orbital
outpost, the Space Station itself and the colours of
the Italian flag. The orbits represent human desire
to travel beyond Earth as well as our curiosity for
knowledge. The winning logo was designed by
28-year-old student Ilaria Sardella.
Italian ticket to space
Luca Parmitano will fly
to the Space Station on
a flight provided by the
Italian space agency
(ASI) in agreement with
NASA. In exchange for
producing US-owned modules for the Station, ASI
received six flight opportunities for its national
astronauts. Volare will be the first European long-
duration mission to the Station under agreement
Day and night, a worldwide network of control centres supports
the astronauts living and working on the International Space
Station. In Europe, experts at the Columbus Control Centre in
Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich, Germany, are the direct link to
Luca in orbit. They are there to help him 24/7 − they know where
everything in the Station is located and how everything works.
Researchers on ground can control and monitor experiments
performed in the European Columbus laboratory from their offices.
Dedicated connections with seven User Support and Operations
Centres (USOCs) across Europe make this possible.
and perform attitude control manoeuvres for the
International Space Station.
Luca will be the first European astronaut to reach the
Station in record time – his Soyuz will dock after just
four orbits in less than six hours, eight times faster than
a standard Soyuz approach. This same-day rendezvous
and docking means that he gains two working days on
Volare’s educational activities will revolve around
robotics. Building a robot to help him fetch items in the
Station, talking to pupils via radio and taking part in
an international challenge to be as fit as an astronaut
are some of the engaging events addressed to primary,
secondary and University students.
→ luca parmitano
The first of ESA’s new generation of astronauts
Luca Parmitano is the first of the new generation of
European astronauts to fly on a long-duration mission.
He represents the values of a young class of astronauts
for the human spaceflight endeavour: professionalism,
hard work and team spirit.
When ESA called for candidates from its Member
States to reinforce the European astronaut corps, more
than 8000 people applied. Luca and five others passed
a demanding year-long selection process and became
proud members of the ‘European astronaut class 2009’.
A frequent flyer
Luca Parmitano was born in Paternò, Italy, in 1976.
He is a major in the Italian air force so he has extensive
experience as a pilot. He has logged more than
2000 flying hours on more than 20 types of military
aircraft and helicopters, and has flown over 40 types of
aircraft in total.
He completed a bachelor’s degree in political science
with a thesis on international law. Pursuing his dream
to fly, he started to train in top flight-academies across
the globe. Luca has followed courses with the United
States Air Force in USA and in Germany.
He qualified as an electronic warfare officer and trained
for tactical leadership in the Italian air force. He was
selected to become a test pilot in 2007. Luca also
holds a diploma in aeronautical science from the
Italian Air Force Academy. After becoming an astronaut,
Luca completed a master’s degree in experimental
He is married and the father of two girls. Luca is an
active scuba diver and enjoys snowboarding, skydiving
and weight training. He is an avid science-fiction reader
and loves music. His colleagues describe Luca as a very
focused and straightforward person, always able to give
prompt feedback and show strong leadership.
In less than three years, Luca has travelled between
all five international partners’ training sites, gaining
the knowledge and skills required for his mission.
His tailored training has taken him to Houston, USA,
Star City near Moscow, Russia, Tsukuba near Tokyo,
Japan, Montreal, Canada, and the European Astronaut
Centre in Cologne, Germany.
European astronaut class 2009
Roughly half of his training has taken place in Star City.
Luca spent approximately the other 40% of his training,
around 30 months in the USA, and the remaining
10% divided between the European Astronaut Centre
and the Japanese and Canadian space agencies.
Critical tasks are trained over and over. As Soyuz flight
engineer, Luca requires a great amount of ‘flying hours’
in the Russian spacecraft simulator, so he trained until
he felt at home in the cockpit and can operate Soyuz
flawlessly in any situation. During simulations, Luca
had his hands at the controls of the spacecraft and wore
the Russian Sokol flight suit.
Specialised tutors trained him in critical launch
and landing procedures, as well as how to handle
depressurisation, fire or toxic spills. Luca also learnt
to speak Russian, a key asset in an emergency.
Luca has been taught Space Station systems in full-size
mockups, where he familiarised himself with the
Station and learnt how everything works. He is trained
in all systems and experiment operations scheduled for
his mission. He has spent hours getting to know every
↑ ESA astronauts from left: Timothy Peake, Samantha Cristoforetti, Andreas Mogensen, Alexander Gerst, Thomas Pesquet
and Luca Parmitano
corner of Europe’s Columbus laboratory, where most
of the experiments in which he participates in take place.
Robotics operations are a highlight of Luca’s mission.
The astronaut learnt that there is more than meets
the eye when operating robotic arms in space – mental
gymnastics are required to understand their motion.
He trained to fly the arm smoothly using hand
controllers to avoid dangerous oscillations. Dressed in
a spacesuit, Luca also trained to perform spacewalks
in one of the largest swimming pools in the world
on realistic mockups of the Space Station.
Luca can interpret electrocardiograms and even
pull out a rotten tooth in space if required. He will
provide continuous feedback about his health and on
the medical experiments in which he is a test subject,
taking samples of his blood, checking his heartbeat
and monitoring his eyes.
He went through survival courses in extreme
environments, training to face all kinds of
emergency situations under prolonged isolation and
↑ ESA astronauts Timothy Peake (middle) and Luca Parmitano
during basic training of medical procedures and techniques
↖ Basic training included operations such as container installation.
Luca practised together with ESA astronauts Thomas Pesquet
(middle) and Timothy Peake
← Survival training is an important part of all Soyuz mission
training. From left: NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg,
cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and Luca Parmitano
during winter survival training near Star City, Russia
← Building a fire during winter survival training. Luca's Soyuz
spacecraft could land in a cold remote area so the crew need
survival skills while they wait for rescue
↙ Fitness training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, USA
↓ When a Soyuz spacecraft returns to Earth there is always the
possibility that it could land in water. Luca underwent survival
training near Star City, Russia
What time is it
on the Station?
Luca plans to treasure every single moment in
space without missing his connection to Earth –
a dual time-zone watch will tell him the time on
the Station, synchronised to Greenwich Mean
Time, and Central Standard Time where his family
lives in Houston USA.
Tasks in space
After arriving at the International Space Station
Luca will take up his tasks as a crewmember and
flight engineer. His duties include:
• Performing experiments. He will make
extensive use of the science facilities on the
Station, and in particular on the European
• Supporting complex robotic operations.
Proficient in operating the Station’s principal
robotic arm, he will participate in docking the
fourth Japanese HTV.
• Supporting berthing and cargo operations
of the Dragon and Cygnus commercial cargo
• Managing logistics operations for ATV Albert
Einstein, such as system monitoring and
sending commands. He will perform outfitting
operations in the spacecraft, including
preparing it to undock.
• Acting as crew medical officer to support the
flight surgeon and medical team on Earth
if medical problems occur.
• Supporting maintenance activities for the
International Space Station.
• Luca is fully trained to perform a possible
Extra Vehicular Activity. If needed he could
exit the Space Station in a spacesuit to install
equipment or conduct repairs.
When I was young, going back
home meant going back to my
When I was at the Air Force
Academy in Pozzuoli, going back
home meant crossing the Strait
When I became an astronaut,
I started to live in Cologne and
landing in Rome was already
enough to feel back home.
The dream of astronauts from
my generation is that one day
someone seeing Earth and the
Moon from space thinks:
‘I am coming back home’.
Life in space
• First two weeks: adapting to microgravity
and learning Space Station processes
• Weekdays: six working hours with
an hour and a half for exercise
• Weekends: Housekeeping, voluntary science
and spare time
• Daily phone calls with family and friends
• Weekly medical conferences to check health
• Sleep time: eight hours
• Day and night support from the European
Control Centre at Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
Sharing the mission
The International Space Station has been a home
and working environment to a minimum crew of six
astronauts continuously since 2009. Rotating shifts
are part of the Station’s routine, four times a year like
clockwork, three astronauts leave as a new trio arrives.
Keeping the Station permanently crewed requires
careful planning. Soyuz capsules ferry only three
astronauts at a time, with launches and landings
generally timed for spring and fall to avoid severe
weather conditions at the launch facility in the steppes
Crew rotations on the Space Station are called
'expeditions', increasing in number every time a group
of six changes. Three-astronaut crews are changed four
times a year, so each astronaut stays in space for about
six months and serves in two adjoining expeditions.
As each new expedition starts, a new commander
takes over. The commander is chosen from the most
experienced astronauts on the Station, and ensures
safety of all crewmembers.
Each crew arriving on a Soyuz has a designated
engineering number, plus a Space Station mission
number and a call sign. For Luca Parmitano’s six-
month mission, this gives him several names to choose
from: he is part of Expedition 36 for four months,
Expedition 37 for two months as well as a crew member
for Soyuz TMA-09M/35S under the call sign Olympus.
He will share these labels with Russian cosmonaut
Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg
who fly with him in the Soyuz.
Astronaut facts figures
• Over 500 people have been to space,
of which 200 went to the International
• Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev has spent a
record 803 days in space. He stayed for
318 days on the Space Station in two different
• Astronauts have performed over 160
spacewalks to build and maintain the
• 6 months: the time an astronaut typically
stays on the Station
Having six permanent residents on the International
Space Station has proven to be an efficient formula.
Flying six full-time astronauts is tripling time spent
on research compared to former three-person crews.
The rotation system allows astronauts to accomplish
operational tasks and maintain Station systems.
All astronauts train following the ‘single-flow-to-launch’
process so that each crew acts as a backup for the
preceding expedition. This process optimises operations:
it limits the time each crewmember has to spend
in training to less than three years.
Karen L. Nyberg
Michael S. Hopkins
Flight Engineer 1 ←
Flight Engineer 2 ←
Flight Engineer 3 ←
Flight Engineer 5 ←
Flight Engineer 4 ←
→ Flight Engineer 1
→ Flight Engineer 2
→ Flight Engineer 3
→ Flight Engineer 4
→ Flight Engineer 5
ISS Expedition 36
May 2013 - Sep 2013
ISS Expedition 37
Sep 2013 - Nov 2013
Astronauts or cosmonauts?
A person that travels in space can be called an
astronaut or a cosmonaut – they mean the same
thing. Cosmonaut is the Russian word for astronaut,
and derives from the Greek words kosmos, meaning
‘universe’, and nautes, meaning ‘sailor’. While
astronaut is used by English-speaking countries,
cosmonaut refers to Russian space travellers and,
Pavel Vinogradov is one of the top
25 astronauts in terms of total time
logged in space. Aged 59, he has
spent half his life working in the space sector, working
on software development for recoverable vehicles to
spacecraft launch preparations. Pavel flew in 1997 to the
Mir space station. During that mission, he performed
five spacewalks and logged nearly 200 days in space.
The cosmonaut flew a second time in 2006 to the
International Space Station, serving as the Expedition 13
Fyodor Yurchikhin is a very experienced cosmonaut.
54 years-old, he has flown to the International Space
Station three times: once on the Space Shuttle
(STS-112) and twice on the Soyuz for long-duration
missions (Expeditions 15 and 24/25), performing five
spacewalks in total.
Fyodor decided to be a cosmonaut when he was
a child, and worked on building an extensive career.
A mechanical engineer specialised in aeronautics,
he worked in the mission control centre in Russia
before becoming a cosmonaut in his forties.
Fyodor says “The Station demonstrates that we are
part of a tremendous team of people from different
countries who work well together on the same
Karen Nyberg was the 50th woman to travel in space
in 2008. Now 43 years old, she wanted to be an
astronaut from a young age and became known as
‘the rocket scientist’ in high school, where a friend
wrote in her yearbook ‘Have fun on the Moon.’
Karen flew on NASA’s Space Shuttle Discovery
(STS-124), on the second of three flights to install the
Japanese Kibo laboratory. She led the robotic arm
operations to attach Kibo to the Station, becoming
the first astronaut ever to operate the Shuttle’s, the
Station’s and the Japanese robotic arms.
Karen has a doctorate in mechanical engineering.
Her research includes human thermoregulation and
experimental metabolic testing specifically related to
controlling thermal neutrality in space suits. Married
to astronaut Douglas Hurley, she likes backpacking and
spending time with her dogs.
380 days in space
380 days in space
359 days in space
15 days in space
380 days in space
359 days in space
15 days in space
Inspired by the early successes of the
Space Shuttle programme, Michael
Hopkins pursued his dream of flying to space since high
school. He graduated in aerospace engineering and served
as a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force.
He lived in Parma, Italy, for nearly two years to study
political science. Michael was selected as a special
assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
at the Pentagon. He joined NASA’s 20th astronaut class
in 2009, the first of the post-Shuttle generation.
Oleg Kotov is a colonel in the
Russian air force and a specialist in
space medicine. During his early career as a physician,
Oleg Kotov worked on altitude physiology and how
spaceflight affects the human body.
The 47-year-old cosmonaut was flight engineer for
Expedition 15 in 2007, and commander on Expedition 23
in 2010. During his last mission, Oleg had to take manual
control of a Progress vehicle and guided the spacecraft
to dock with the Station, a first for a Progress docking.
Christopher Cassidy has the honour
of being the 500th person to go to
space. He started his career as a
member of the US Navy SEALs. At 43 years old, he still
likes to refer to his fellow astronauts as ‘shipmates’.
Christopher flew on NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavour
to the Space Station (STS-127), spending more than
18 hours in spacewalks to help install and complete
the construction of Kibo, the Japanese Experiment
Module. He has also worked as a Capsule Communicator
(CAPCOM) in mission control for more than two years.
Aleksandr Misurkin was a major
of the Russian Air Force before he
was selected in 2006 to become a
cosmonaut. Among his duties and accomplishments, he
is a first-class instructor-pilot and has logged 1600 hours
of flight time in jet trainer-aircraft for the Russian air force.
Aleksandr has undergone extreme survival training
35-year-old cosmonaut enjoys alpine skiing and karting.
Sergei joined the cosmonaut team
because of a family tradition − his
grandfather was a rocket engineer involved in Yuri
Gagarin’s historic first flight into space.
After graduating as a biochemist, he began
working at the Institute of Biomedical Problems in
Moscow. There, as researcher and test cosmonaut,
he participated in a 105-day mission isolation study in
2009. Sergei, now 38 years old, hopes to contribute to
future human missions to Mars.
380 days in space
359 days in space
15 days in space
380 days in space
359 days in space
15 days in space
380 days in space
359 days in space
15 days in space
380 days in space
380 days in space
359 days in space
15 days in space
→ ALL THE SPACE YOU CAN USE
The International Space Station
The International Space Station with Europe’s ATV Johannes Kepler and Space Shuttle
Endeavour attached taken by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli from his Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft
after undocking in 2011
The International Space Station is a shining example
of global cooperation, uniting Europe, USA, Russia,
Japan and Canada in one of the largest partnerships in
the history of science and is the greatest engineering
work ever achieved by mankind. This human outpost
in Earth orbit is a stepping stone for further space
The endeavour has brought humanity together to live
and work in space uninterrupted for over a decade.
The orbiting complex is the size of a football field –
There is no laboratory like it on Earth that has the facilities
to conduct research in microgravity.
The Space Station is now complete and in full service
with a full crew and a full international partnership.
Intensive research and effective use of this laboratory
lead to new applications and benefits for people on
Earth, from space to your doorstep.
A free-falling research laboratory in space
For decades, experiments in space have answered many
scientific questions, inspired technological development
and, sometimes, resulted in unexpected outcomes.
The International Space Station was completed after
nearly 13 years of construction, now the number of
scientific activities on the effects of long-duration
microgravity on humans has reached a record high.
Gravity affects almost everything we do on Earth. In a
free fall motion around the planet, the astronauts in the
Space Station live in microgravity. Up there, scientists are
conducting pioneering investigations, testing theories,
and pushing the boundaries of our knowledge.
The high-flying international laboratory is packed with
technologically sophisticated facilities that support a
wide range of research in human physiology, biology,
fundamental physics, materials sciences, Earth
observation and space science.
The Station is a unique vantage point for collecting
science data. Observation of features such as glaciers,
agricultural areas, cities and coral reefs can complement
satellite data to create a comprehensive view of
our world. Science in space supports competitive
technology developments and fosters scientific research
Did you know?
• In clear skies around sunset or sunrise,
the International Space Station can be
seen from Earth with the naked eye as a
bright moving star
• The space astronauts use on the Space
Station is larger than a five-bedroom house,
with a 360-degree bay window called
Cupola, two toilets and fitness facilities
• The Station has been inhabited for 13 years,
no other space station has been inhabited
for longer or received more visitors
• More than 130 space missions have been
flown to build and maintain the Station
The Columbus laboratory is the first permanent
European research facility in space. Since it was attached
to the Station in 2008, this multifunction lab has been
generating scientific data across a range of disciplines.
External platforms are supporting experiments and
applications in space science, Earth observation and
Automated Transfer Vehicle:
Resupplies and services the Space Station
Harmony and Tranquility
Node-2 Harmony is a connecting module between
Columbus, Destiny and Kibo laboratories. It also provides
three docking ports for visiting vessels. Node-3 Tranquillity,
connected to Node-1 Unity, houses life-support
and exercise equipment for six crewmembers and
accommodates Cupola and more docking ports.
European parts of the International Space Station
Permanent Multipurpose Module:
Primarily used for storage of spares, supplies and waste
Node-2: Connecting module
The Cupola observatory is the most recent made-in-
Europe module on the Station. The seven-window dome
is the crew’s panoramic window to Earth, as well as
giving astronauts a clear view to control equipment
outside the Station remotely.
Automated Transfer Vehicle
The Automated Transfer Vehicle is Europe’s unmanned
single-use ferry that docks and undocks autonomously,
delivering food, propellant and other essential supplies
to the Station. ATV can reboost the Station to adjust its
orbit. The fourth ATV, Albert Einstein, will be launched
in April 2013.
Columbus: Europe's research module
Node-3: Connecting module
Cupola: A dome-shaped module with
windows for observing and guiding
operations outside of the Station
→ RESEARCH FOR THE BENEFIT
European science in space
This microscope image of a human immune cell on the International
Space Station was taken for the experiment Motion and Interact
During his six-month mission, Luca and crewmates will
perform around 40 experiments on the International
Space Station. The results will bring benefits to
people on Earth and pave the way for future space
The crew devote a lot of time to scientific activities.
European experiments cover a wide range of disciplines
and are selected on the basis of feasibility and potential
Luca will use scientific facilities on the Space Station
and especially those in the European Columbus
laboratory. This module provides scientists with a unique
opportunity to conduct microgravity research. Columbus
is Europe’s entrance ticket to the Space Station and
ESA’s largest single contribution to the orbital outpost.
During the Volare mission, Luca alone will be involved
in more than 20 experiments from US, Canadian and
Japanese space agencies.
We have an inner clock – called the circadian timing
system – that tells us roughly what time of day it is, and
makes us sleepy at night. Normally, our biological clock is
in sync with Earth’s 24-hour cycle. That cycle is disrupted
in orbit, where Luca will experience 16 sunrises and
sunsets every day on the International Space Station.
The Circadian Rhythms experiment will look at how
long-duration spaceflight affect our biological clock by
linked to our circadian rhythms. The findings will help
work out how to rest effectively and be alert when most
needed. This will help future missions but also people
working irregular hours on Earth such as doctors and
Human bodies lose mass in space and this is a concern
for astronauts. Knowledge of energy requirements
during spaceflight is needed to ensure that the right
amount of food is packed on long-duration missions.
Changes in Luca’s energy balance and expenditure will
be measured to help derive an equation for astronaut’s
Our neuro-vestibular system is very sensitive to gravity.
Astronaut’s perception and reaction time deteriorate in
space. This can affect the way astronauts perform critical
tasks such as operating robotic arms as well as their
orientation and navigation skills.This experiment aims to
understand the relationship between gravity and depth
perception. Reversible symbols can be seen in different
ways and this could be influenced by microgravity.
Participants in this study will look at 3D images of
reversible figures before, during and after long-duration
As we grow older our skin becomes more fragile and
takes longer to heal from injuries. Astronauts lose more
skin cells and age faster during spaceflight. The aim of
this experiment is to gain insights on skin physiology in
space, and in particular the skin-ageing process. SKIN-B
will collect data on Luca’s skin before, during and after his
mission to develop a computer model of how skin ages.
This model could contribute to help protect people’s skin
on Earth as well as in space.
Headaches are not exclusive to humans on Earth.
Through regular questionnaires, this experiment studies
the number of headaches Luca experiences on the
International Space Station. The headaches are classified
and analysed according to the International Classification
of Headache Disorders.
Living in microgravity leads to loss of muscle mass,
function and motor control. SARCOLAB will help to
understand the problem of maintaining muscle mass in
space, as well as providing more knowledge to counteract
loss of muscle strength on Earth. The experiment will
study characteristics of muscles that are particularly
affected in space, such as the plantar flexor muscles in
the lower leg during static and dynamic contractions.
Luca will provide feedback on how his muscles perform
before and after his flight. To get a better insight on
unused muscles, Luca will also commission MARES, an
adjustable chair that can measure and exercise around
seven joints in the human body.
↑ Chicken with lemon confit in cans for the Energy experiment
↑ Before flight Luca exercising for SARCOLAB to get
information about muscle fibres
Before and after: ground-based studies
Space is a harsh environment that affects the body
in many ways. Defects in cartilage growth occur
because astronaut’s bones suffer less stress. CARTILAGE
investigates the effects of microgravity on cartilage
strength and health. MRI scans of Luca’ knees will be
taken before and after his stay in orbit to test the effect
of weightlessness on his cartilage thickness and overall
volume. The results are expected to help develop and
validate medical technologies and plan for long-duration
Plants are very aware of gravity. When a seedling is
turned and placed horizontally its extremities start to
bend to continue growing up and away from gravity. The
mechanism behind these changes in growth direction
is not fully understood. The GRAVI-2 experiment takes
lentil seedling roots and places them in a centrifuge.
Spinning the roots at different levels of acceleration in
microgravity will determine the minimum acceleration
required before the roots respond. Researchers will
follow the experiment via timelapse video. Calcium in
root cells is used as a marker to measure their response
to artificial gravity. This experiment will examine the
immune response in plants when grown in microgravity.
These experiments examine growth patterns and how
microstructures evolve when metallic alloys crystallise
in microgravity. The results will complement computer
simulations to produce more efficient aluminium alloys
for the transport industry. Data from CETSOL-2 could
reduce vehicle weight and increase their strength while
optimising industrial casting processes. Microgravity
on the International Space Station is necessary for the
MICAST-2 experiment that magnetically controls fluid-
flow at micro-scale levels. The SETA-2 experiment will
look into structural patterns formed in aluminium alloys
mixed with manganese and silicon as they solidify.
↓ Lentil roots growing in microgravity. Earth’s gravity plays a major role in plant evolution
↑ ESA research has helped to develop an aircraft-grade alloy that
is twice as light as conventional nickel superalloys while offering
equally good properties
stability. Many emulsions found in food, cosmetics
and pharmacy products need to be highly stable for
long periods of time. These experiments examine the
link between emulsion stability and physicochemical
characteristics of droplets. The goal is to obtain an
emulsion dynamics model that can be transferred to
industrial applications on Earth.
Fluids and gases are never at rest, even if they appear to
be when viewed by the naked eye. For example, water
molecules when viewed under a microscope, move
incessantly and continuously collide with each other.
Scientists are interested in observing and measuring
these movements because they reveal important,
practical information such as how quickly heat spreads
in a fluid or how quickly liquids mix. The SODI DCMIX
experiment will exploit the fact that fluids in microgravity
become ‘quiet’ or inactive − also called quiescence − to
measure diffusion in liquid mixtures. Using sensitive
optical techniques it will measure mass diffusion to
compare results with current theories and improve our
Staring at the Sun
The Sun is our star, our main source of light and energy.
The International Space Station provides a precious
platform for observing the Sun over a long period of
time. Only by analysing solar activity in more detail can
we hope to understand the physical mechanisms at work
in this gigantic nuclear-fusion reactor.
SOLAR measures the Sun’s electromagnetic radiation
with unprecedented accuracy across most of its spectral
range. The next maximum solar activity, expected in
↓ ESA's study of foams could benefit the food industry
↑ SOLAR will help us learn more about our star
A module for materials
Luca will perform a variety of materials research
in weightlessness on ESA’s Materials Science
Laboratory. The laboratory can run solidification
experiments on high-temperature alloys and
also allows experiments to be performed with
semi-conducting or glass-forming materials,
↑ ESA Astronaut André Kuipers working with the
European Materials Science Laboratory
2013, will help to build an even more detailed picture of
sunspots, flares and our star’s magnetic field. Data from
SOLAR will help scientists improve climate models and
sharpen future climate forecasts. The same data can aid
satellite design to prolong their useable life. The readings
will also contribute to more accurate navigation data,
as well as more precise satellite and space-debris orbit
SOLSPEC and SOL-ACES operate at a high spectral
resolution to measure solar irradiance from the Sun. They
are made of spectrometers dedicated to observations in
the ultraviolet, visible and infrared wavelengths. Their
primary goal is to measure the solar constant in order
to distinguish between solar influence from human
influence on Earth’s climate.
Radiation levels in space are up to 15 times higher than
on Earth. The International Space Station offers some
protection for astronauts as incoming space rays are
partly halted by materials used in its structure. The
Station is constructed so that some areas are better
shielded than others. This experiment monitors radiation
in three-dimensions in all segments of the orbital outpost
using active and passive radiation detectors. Radiation
detectors provided by ESA, NASA, JAXA and Roscosmos
will all contribute to the final results of DOSIS 3D.
Vessel ID System
Placed on the Columbus laboratory, this ESA satellite
receiver is the marine equivalent of air traffic control
systems. It identifies ships on the open seas within the
field of view of the International Space Station from
space. On a good day, around 400 000 position reports
are received from more than 22 000 ships. The Vessel ID
experiment is part of ESA’s roadmap to develop global
maritime surveillance safeguarding the security of
people and infrastructure at sea, as well as our maritime
↑ World sea traffic tracked from space. ESA’s ship detection system can receive signals from more than 22 000 ships
↑ Astronaut Randolph Bresnik during a spacewalk in
2009 with the Vessel ID satellite receiver attached to
the European Columbus laboratory
→ VOYAGE WITH SOYUZ
The longest-serving route to space
The Soyuz has been used for human spaceflight missions
longer than any other launch system. The Russian
workhorse is presently the only means for astronauts to
reach and leave the International Space Station.
Luca Parmitano will be boosted into space with his
crewmates Fyodor Yurchikhin and Karen Nyberg in a
Soyuz spacecraft on a Soyuz FG rocket from the Baikonur
cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Because Luca is 1.84 m tall, he
will just fit in the ninth SoyuzTMA-M series.TheTMA-M is
the latest upgrade to Russia’s legendary manned vehicle
The Soyuz is a wonderful
spacecraft, very safe and
stable. To master this
complex machine, we need
three to four months of
theory, plus dozens of
simulations in different
and it can accommodate a greater height and weight
range for the three-astronaut crew.
The Soyuz spacecraft shares the same name as its
launcher – Soyuz means union – and can manoeuvre,
rendezvous and dock in orbit in automated or manual
control mode. Conceived in the 1960s as part of the
Soviet space programme in the context of the race with
the USA to land the first man on the Moon, Soyuz’s main
objective remains to ferry astronauts to low-Earth orbit.
T + 01:58
T + 02:38
Escape tower and
Soyuz ascent and orbit insertion
Soyuz rockets have launched spacecraft and satellites into orbit for 45 years
– they are the most-used launch vehicles in the world. They have logged
over 1700 manned and unmanned launches, far more than any other
rocket. Its design goes back to the Vostok launcher, which was used for
the first manned spaceflight in 1961 with Russian cosmonaut Yuri
Gagarin. The basic design of the Soyuz launcher excels in low cost and
high reliability. The Soyuz FG rocket for Luca’s mission consists of three
stages that provide thrust at various points until the Soyuz capsule settles
into orbit around Earth, burning more than 150 tonnes of fuel on its trip.
At the top of the 51 m-high Soyuz FG rocket, the Soyuz spacecraft and
emergency rescue system can be triggered during the first three minutes
of flight to quickly push away cosmonauts in case of rocket failure.
On launch day, the vehicle is loaded
with propellant and the final
countdown sequence starts three
hours before lift-off. Four boosters,
main thrust in the first two minutes
of flight and are then jettisoned.
In less than five minutes, 225 tonnes
of RP-1 and liquid oxygen are
consumed. RP-1 is a highly refined
form of kerosene, similar to jet fuel.
Nearly ten minutes into the flight,
at an altitude of about 210 km and
at speed of about 25 000 km/h,
the Soyuz starts to orbit Earth.
Some orbital corrections are required
before the spacecraft follows the
same orbit as the International
Space Station flying at an altitude
of 400 km and a speed of about
28 000 km/h. While in orbit chasing
the Space Station, the Soyuz crew
perform systems checks and keep in
touch with controllers at the Russian
Mission Control Centre.
13 500 km/h
25 000 km/h
T + 04:48
T + 08:48
A speedy Soyuz
Luca will be the first European astronaut on a Soyuz
fast-track flight to the Station. Rather than the standard
34 orbits over the two days that it usually takes to
travel to the Space Station, Luca’s Soyuz will execute a
same-day rendezvous, docking in record time. He will
dock after just four orbits, in less than six hours of flight.
During a flight test with the Russian unmanned Progress
spacecraft last summer, flight controllers managed to
shorten the transit to the Station. As the basic procedures
do not change significantly, this new approach did not
affect Luca’s training.
Final approach and docking
Rendezvous and docking are automated, but the Soyuz
crew can execute these operations manually in case
of anomalies. Soyuz spacecraft complete a series of
trajectory corrections and manoeuvres to align itself
with one of four available Russian docking ports on the
Once docked with the Station, the crew equalise air
pressure between Soyuz and the orbital outpost.
After removing their flight suits, they open the hatches
to enter their orbital home for the next six months.
↑ The crews launching on a Soyuz spacecraft go through
numerous traditions. From a visit to the memorial wall at the
Kremlin when their mission is approved, to the last days of
quarantine, everything follows a ritual that started half a
century ago with Yuri Gagarin’s first flight. Around two weeks
before launch, Soyuz crews fly from Star City to Baikonur and
take part in a traditional tree-planting ceremony
↑ The Soyuz launcher is rolled out on a special railway carriage
about 48 hours before launch when the Sun rises in Kazakhstan.
Luca and his crewmates do not see the roll-out and erection of
the Soyuz rocket on the launch pad, because this is considered
bad luck. Personnel and visitors can put coins on the rails that
transport the launcher as a good luck charm
↑ In the last days, the crew get haircuts, watch the popular
Russian movie ‘White Sun of the Desert’ and, on launch day, sip
a glass of champagne as well as sign the doors of their rooms at
the Cosmonaut Hotel
A Soyuz space capsule ferried the first crew to the
International Space Station in November 2000. Since that
time, one Soyuz for each group of three astronauts has
always been at the Station to serve as a safe house and
lifeboat should they have to return to Earth unexpectedly.
Although the Space Station is the most heavily-shielded
spacecraft ever, even a piece of space debris the size of
a grain of sand could cause serious damage and threaten
the crew’s lives.
When a piece of space debris is on a trajectory
towards the Space Station, astronauts can shelter in
their Soyuz spacecraft. If an object hits the Station,
the astronauts would be safe in their capsules ready to
return to Earth if necessary.
→ The Soyuz final approach and
docking to the Space Station is a
critical phase of the mission. At a
range of 8 km the ‘Soyuz TV’ is
activated for monitoring. Docking
port alignment becomes crucial in
the last 200 metres
Luca Parmitano flies on Soyuz TMA-09M,
transport. It is informally known as the digital
Soyuz, referring to its new and advanced flight-
control computer and the new-generation devices
that make it easier for the crew to manoeuvre.
1 Service module
Contains oxygen and propellant tanks, attitude-
control thrusters, electronics for communication
and the primary guidance and navigation control
systems. Astronauts have no access to this
module and all functions are controlled remotely.
2 Descent module
The only module to return to Earth and designed
to resist the aerodynamic stress of reentry into
3 Orbital module
Used only in space and acts as living quarters,
with hygiene and sleeping facilities.
Undocking and reentry
After living and working on the Space Station for nearly
170 days, Luca will return to Earth in the Soyuz capsule
with his crewmates. Closing the Soyuz hatch will signal
the end of his Volare mission, and the astronauts will
land on Earth less than four hours later.
Less then three hours after undocking, when Soyuz is at
a distance of 19 km from the Space Station,
the spacecraft’s engines fire for about four minutes.
This so-called deorbit burn brakes the spacecraft and
decreases its orbit. Shortly afterwards, at an altitude of
140 km and less than 30 minutes before landing, the
Soyuz spacecraft separates into three parts.
The orbital and service modules burn up on reentry
in the denser layers of Earth’s atmosphere.The remaining
descent module rotates and places the heat shield
towards the direction of travel, so that it can absorb most
of the heat caused by friction.
Reentry occurs at an altitude of approximately 100 km,
when the speed at which the capsule travels is reduced
dramatically and the crew is pushed back into their
seats by a force of up to 5g, equivalent to five times their
own body weight.
Landing and rescue
Parachutes and the Soyuz shock-absorbing seats soften
the landing and in addition retro-rockets fire just before
touchdown 80 cm from the ground. The descent module
usually touches down on Earth at about 5 km/h.
After touchdown, the crew deploy a communication
antenna, so that rescue teams can pinpoint their
location. The Soyuz descent module is not reusable and
is discarded after every reentry.
As a pilot I have been
subjected to many g-forces,
but a return to Earth on the
Soyuz is different − the
acceleration will strike our
chests. I am very curious to
know how it will feel like.
↑ The way back to Earth. The separation of Soyuz modules takes
place on reentry into the atmosphere, at around 140 km altitude.
The orbital and service modules disintegrate and burn up
↑ Three hours after leaving the Station, a system of parachutes is
deployed in precise sequence. The reentry capsule enters a
stable descent at a speed of around 7 m/s
↑ Once rescued from the landing site, Luca will be taken directly
back to Houston from Baikonur for rehabilitation and post-flight
data collection. Luca will be the third European astronaut to
follow this procedure
→ TRAFFIC AT THE STATION
ATV Edoardo Amaldi approaches
the International Space Station in 2012
Cargo ferries are vital to keep the International Space
Station and its permanent crew of six working at full
capacity. During the Volare mission, Luca will greet all
the unmanned spacecraft that supply the Space Station.
Since the American Space Shuttle no longer visits the
International Space Station there is more demand on
other ferries for cargo and last-minute equipment
requests. Propellant needed for the attitude control
system of the Station, spare parts, new payloads and
equipment for microgravity research are on the shipping
list. The cramped Soyuz spacecraft has little room for
extra deliveries, so crews on the Space Station rely on
unmanned cargo vehicles.
ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle has the largest cargo
capacity of all visiting space ferries. The most complex
spacecraft ever built in Europe can deliver nearly seven
tonnes of cargo, including food, water, various gases as
well as research and maintenance equipment. ATV Albert
Einstein will be already attached to the Space Station
when Luca arrives.
During the Volare mission, two Russian Progress
spacecraft, traditionally used as the resupply vehicle for
the Station, and the fourth Japanese Transfer Vehicle
(HTV-4) will dock with the Station.
Luca will take part in welcoming the first Cygnus resupply
vehicle from Orbital Sciences Corporation as well as the
third arrival of Dragon, a reusable spacecraft developed
by SpaceX. Both missions are part of NASA’s commercial
resupply service programme.
This traffic around the Station means a busy agenda
of robotic operations for Station crew. Luca’s duties on
the orbital outpost include participating in the docking
and cargo operations. Capturing vehicles with robotic
arms is one of the most critical tasks of his mission.
In quick succession Luca will have to capture the
free-flying vehicles with large robotic arms and move
them into place to attach them to the Station.
Launch vehicle: Ariane 5ES
Launch site: Kourou, French Guiana
Duration of stay: 6 months
Launch vehicle: Soyuz FG
Launch site: Baikonur
Duration of stay: 6 months
ATV: a record-breaker
• Heaviest spacecraft ever launched by ESA
• Heaviest spacecraft launched on an Ariane rocket
• Can carry in total about three times the payload
of the Russian and Japanese cargo spacecraft
• Most powerful reboost capability of any spacecraft
visiting the Station
• Can dock automatically with the Station with a precision
of better than 6 cm
• Most sophisticated flight software ever developed by ESA
ATV, the largest space freighter
Named after Albert Einstein, the fourth Automated
Transfer Vehicle plays a vital role in Station logistics:
it serves as cargo carrier, storage facility and space tug.
Similar to its predecessors, the objectives of this mission
are to deliver 6.6 tonnes of cargo plus support the
Station’s orbit for six months.
This reliable spacecraft carries more dry cargo than any
ATV to date – 2700 kg – including scientific equipment,
spare parts, food and clothes for the astronauts. It also
delivers gas and more than 500 litres of drinking water
that is pumped into the Station’s tanks.
ATV can reboost the Space Station: its propulsion system
is used to raise the Station to a higher orbit, counteracting
atmospheric drag that slowly causes the Station to lose
attitude. It can also be used to avoid collisions with
space debris. ATV provides attitude control when other
spacecraft approach the Station.
The Station’s needs change with every mission, and there
are always last-minute requests of all kinds. ATV Albert
Einstein will feature a newly developed lift – the so called
Late Cargo Access Means – to load large and heavy bags
during the last weeks prior to launch.
After about six months, ATV Albert Einstein will undock
from the Station filled with a few tonnes of waste water
and unneeded materials and equipment. Its last journey
will be a controlled and destructive reentry into Earth’s
May JuneApril2013 July
Launch vehicle: H-IIB
Launch site: Tanegashima,
Duration of stay: 1 month
Launch vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch site: Florida, USA
Duration of stay: 1 month
Launch vehicle: Antares
Launch site: Virginia, USA
Duration of stay: 1 month
Launch vehicle: Soyuz FG
Launch site: Baikonur,
Duration of stay: 6 months
The fourth Japanese cargo ship Kounotori, also known
as HTV, carries around 5 tonnes of supplies, science
gear and spare parts to the International Space
Station. Unlike Russia’s unmanned Progress supply
ship and Europe’s ATV, the spacecraft can carry both
pressurised and unpressurised cargo.
Progress is the longest-serving unmanned cargo
spacecraft – it has been carrying fuel and other supplies to
all space stations since 1978. Three to four Progress flights
go to the Space Station each year carrying over 2 tonnes
of supplies each. It is about the same size and shape as a
Soyuz and uses the same docking ports.
In May 2012, SpaceX made history when its Dragon
spacecraft became the first commercial vehicle to be
attached to the International Space Station. The capsule
can transport 3.3 tonnes of pressurised cargo. Of all the
unmanned vehicles currently visiting the Space Station
Dragon is the only ferry that can return to Earth with
equipment and scientific samples.
Cygnus will be the fifth unmanned spacecraft in
the history of spaceflight to resupply the Station.
Following a demonstration flight earlier in 2012, this
Orbital Sciences Corporation mission will deliver
around two tonnes of cargo. It has a berthing
mechanism similar to the Japanese HTV and the other
American vehicle, SpaceX’s Dragon.
September NovemberAugust October
(Status as of February 2013)
→ SPACE FOR EDUCATION
Inspiring the next generation
Luca Parmitano will bring a universe of educational
activities down to Earth. From primary school pupils to
university students, the astronaut will encourage the
study of science, technology, engineering and maths
among the next generation of scientists. The focus will
be on space robotics. Videos, competitions and live in-
flight calls to the Station are part of his didactic journey
Volare Space Robotics competition
Can students manufacture a robot capable of assisting
Luca in the International Space Station? Students are
challenged to build a robot that fetches items from one
module and takes them to another module in a Station
mockup. The competition requires schools and pupils
to contact ESA experts to develop their projects and to
demonstrate their robots in action.
Mission-X: space training back to school
Mission-X fever is spreading across the planet. Future
space explorers will get on their marks and invade
gyms to train like astronauts for the 2013 Mission-X
challenge. Luca will give schoolchildren tips on having a
fit and healthy lifestyle. In the summer, Luca will answer
questions from Mission-X participants around the world.
ARISS: science on a radio wave
Space technology is not all high-tech. Radios operated
by amateur enthusiasts can be used to communicate
with the International Space Station. Luca will talk
to Italian children using handheld-radios over ARISS,
the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station.
via YouTube and iTunes to students of engineering and
related degrees. Educational talks given by prominent
university professors will cover robotics topics not only
on the Space Station, but also on interplanetary missions.
Space in Bytes
Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, NASA’s Robonaut
and the robotic arms working on the Station are
some of the stars of Space-in-bytes, a series of short
videos presented by Luca. Rover missions on Mars and
telecommunications will also be covered by these movies.
↑ Students built vehicles powered by the spring
of a mousetrap
↑ Students can ask questions to ESA astronauts while
they are in space