I was one of the 40 lucky ones who was invited to the CallAlex event at the EAC in Cologne. I liked the fact that there were a lot of new spacefans who never went to such an event.
This is the welcome speech by Andreas Schepers and Jules Grandsire, communication officers at ESA.
First we visited the Envihab. Altought it was the second time I visited the Envihab it still impresses me. A pratical but very beautiful building. We saw the centrifuge. They use it mainly for research purposes. They were performing tests on it at that moment.
Another large study is the bedrest study. Persons who are physicologically tested beforehand, stay for 60 or 90 days in a bed. The bed is tilted to stimulate weightlesness environment. A lot of blood goes to the head. They even shower lying down.
I wouldn’t and couldn’t do it frankly.
There’s also a room with a lot of special gym equipment. It’s used for research but also for tests on astronauts before and after their long term stay on the ISS. Alexander Gerst will be the first astronaut who will go straight from Kazahkstan to Cologne (instead first to the US).
More on Envihab here: http://www.dlr.de/envihab/en/desktopdefault.aspx”>hab/en/desktopdefault.aspx
Frank de Winne, Belgian astronaut and head of the EAC, talked about his stay on the ISS and answered many questions from the audience.
11 people were able to ask a question to Alexander on the ISS. Alex looked really comfortable and happy on the screen.
You may find the replay of this at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Y4APzYYKok
Afterwards we went on a tour to Eurocom and the Columbus and ATV module in the training center.
Our tour leader was Lionel Ferra, astronaut instructor (especially on ATV) and Eurocom. Being an Eurocom is really interesting. They speak with astronauts and help astronauts with performing science on the Columbus Module. They’re either at EAC or at Col-CC (near Munich).
There was a nice mockup of the Columbus Module at the Eurocom desk:
You may find lots of signed photos of crew trainings on the walls of the EAC. Nice touch.
The fifth and last ATV is at this moment in space, docked at the ISS. This means that the training in the ATV module at EAC has stopped. It’s a 1:1 setup. Impressive to see what they all have to do in the ATV.