Reiter’s Astrolab mission in focus

by Chris Bergin

With preparations continuing toward Saturday’s first launch attempt of STS-121, Europeans will be closely watching progress of Thomas Reiter – who’s mission has been often overshadowed by the continuing media debate over the safety of the mission.

While each and every member of the crew will be busy during their 12 day mission, Reiter will become the European Space Agency’s first permanent crew member on the International Space Station (ISS). will switch to full live coverage of STS-121 on Saturday, with never-seen-before coverage. Details on Saturday.

In-depth coverage – including the superb, and previously unreleased, final NASA 230 page STS-121 Flight Plan and MMT notes – has begun on L2.

**STS-121 Update pages**

The 47-year-old German will be joining the current Expedition 13 crew on the ISS for a scheduled to mission lasting about seven months, called ‘Astrolab’. This will also be the first time in which the European ground control center in Germany will be used for a long duration mission.

In addition to his other milestones, Reiter will be participating in the first long duration European science program doing experiments in Physics, Biology and many other subjects.

‘Weightlessness is a fantastic feeling, once you release the straps and you take off your space suit, then you first recognize that this weightlessness doesn’t end after 20 seconds,’ said Reiter in a recent interview with ESA’s official site.

‘All the impressions you acquire during a space flight is really extraordinary, seeing these beautiful colors drifting over all these different areas is so remarkable and you are just fascinated by it.

‘These impressions are so intense that they accompany you for a life time.’

The STS-121 mission will be Reiter’s second space mission, his first being ESA’s Euromir 95 mission in which he spent a record-breaking 179 days in the Mir space station.

However, his aspirations range further into the future, although he acknowledged his role will be one of watching, rather than participation.

‘Without any doubt, it would be great to stand with your own feet on the surface of a different planet. I hope that I can follow the mission to mars sitting in a nice TV chair maybe being 70 or 75-years-old.’ Reiter added.

‘I will be very excited when human beings stand on the surface of Mars, it would be great to be there.’

**INFRARED STS-121 MUSIC VIDEO** – Trust Discovery.
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