Since the end of May, the Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne has been living onboard the International Space Station (ISS). On Tuesday the 29th of September, he'll video-conference directly from the ISS with students from the Delfy University of Technology's aerospace department. At the beginning of October, De Winne will become the first commander of the ISS from somewhere other than the US or Russia. André Kuipers, Dutch astronaut, will lead the video-conference.
The video-conference with Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne is a special moment for the aerospace department at TU Delft. The department maintains a warm bond with Belgium: 13 percent of the bachelor students are Flemish, a percentage not seen elsewhere in the Netherlands.
De Winne and the aerospace students' video-conference will last about 15 minutes and can be followed at www.tudelft.nl. The meeting begins at 15:30 and contact with the ISS will occur at 16:15.
Belgians study faster
The Belgian students choose TU Delft because of the high quality of education and because they get active experience in the field of aerospace from the moment the programme starts. There is no comparable study in Belgium.
"We are very happy with our Belgian students," says dean Jacco Hoekstra. "They study noticably better and faster than average. I am therefore extremely pleased that Frank De Winne will talk with our students - both Dutch and Flemish - from the space station."
The aerospace students suggested questions over the past few weeks. Out of the contributing students, 5 have been selected to ask their questions of De Winne. One of them is Belgian student Robin Ligon. "I am above all curious about what the difference in bodily experience is between a flight of a week and one that lasts half a year. Is the experience different for the astronaut? I'm looking forward to asking him that on Tuesday."
This is De Winne's second spaceflight: in 2002 he stayed aboard the ISS for a little over a week. This time he'll stay a half-year. Unique for this mission is that De Winne will take over command of the ISS at the beginning of October. He'll then be the first commander of the ISS from somewhere other than Russia or the US.
In the mean time De Winne's colleague André Kuipers, Dutch astonaut for the European Space Agency, is preparing for his own similar mission in 2011. Kuipers will lead the video-conference on Tuesday.