In a unique media tie-up, Germany's leading Internet service provider, T-Online, and ESA will conduct a live space video chat via the Internet on 28 November 2006, starting at 21:15 (CET).
The event will enable German-speaking space enthusiasts to communicate with ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter - from Germany - via the web direct from the ISS, 400 km above the Earth where Reiter is now in the closing stages of the historic Astrolab Mission.
Chat participants will receive first-hand information from Reiter on the status of his mission and how he lives, works and conducts scientific investigations in a weightless environment.
During the event, questions submitted from the public via the Web will be relayed directly to Reiter on board the ISS by a moderator. Reiter will answer in real time, while flying over Russia at a speed of 28,000 kilometres per hour.
The chat is being organized at ESA's European Astronaut Centre (ESA/EAC) in Cologne, Germany, in partnership with T-Online. A direct link (in German) to the chat can be found at:
Before and after the live space link, German ESA astronaut Reinhold Ewald, located at the EAC, will also field questions from T-Online users via chat. Ewald is the Mission Manager for Astrolab and normally oversees activities from ESA's Columbus Control Centre, where he is in daily contact with Reiter. In 1997, Ewald was a crew member on board the Russian Mir space station.
'Space chat' aims to inspire youth and students towards space flight
"For today's youth, Web chat and social networking are an important communication vehicle," said Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin, head of ESA's Corporate Communications Office at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. "With this novel video 'Space Chat' event, ESA aims to reach out to young people to even more strongly inspire them towards space exploration and space science as future career options."
"Hardly anything excites people as much as human spaceflight," said Gerd Weimer, Senior Manager for 'onNachrichten' (online news) at T-Online. "On the T-Online portal, we offer a broad audience not only news and information about space sciences, but, now, also the unique opportunity to communicate with astronauts, thus receiving a direct and unfiltered account of space exploration straight from orbit."
In addition to a link to the dedicated Space Chat site, ESA news and information is available for German-speaking audiences at T-Online's 'ESA Special' channel, at http://www.t-online.de/esa.
ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter is the first European astronaut to undertake a long-duration mission to the International Space Station. He launched into space with the STS-121 Discovery mission on 4 July. Reiter will return to Earth in December.
The Astrolab Mission marks the first time that a European scientific programme has been assembled for a long-duration mission. The programme comes predominantly from scientific institutions across Europe, and includes experiments in human physiology, biology, physics and radiation dosimetry.
T-Online is Germany's most popular web portal, and the ESA channel provides visitors unique reportage on ESA spacecraft exploring the Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn and comets, as well as human missions on board the ISS.
There is also a popular "ESA Photo of the Week" section, displaying fantastic images received from ESA-operated remote sensing and Earth-observation missions.
Bernhard L. von WEYHE | alfa
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