On 24 March, the French National Space Agency (CNES, @CNES_france) and the European Space Agency (ESA, @esa) invited 60 Twitter users to follow the ATV-3 “Edoardo Amaldi” docking to the Interntational Space Station (ISS) from the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse. It was the first Spacetweetup for me and it was marvellous! Many thanks for @Jools_MY, who gave me the info about this opportunity.
Our schedule was very tight. On the evening before the docking day few of us met in gorgeous restaurant “Le Florida” in front of Toulouse’s Capitol for @AperoSpatial. Food was delicious. We were talking about space and watching French acrobats jumped on see-saw. Among our group was @SpaceKate, @janemacarthur, @cpamoa, @danielscuka, @ericarolfe, @AndreasSchepers, @idariane, @ScottNyood. Later, the Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli (@astro_paolo) joined us, and showed us some “magic astronaut tricks”. Paolo was special guest of the @ATVtweetup.
Space City in Toulouse
Next day, in the morning our small group (@DCirioni_AVDA, @cpamoa, @GENSO_UVa, @ScottNyood and me @imperator_jarek) visited the Space City in Toulouse. Weather was great, with +27 degrees of Celsius.
We saw an amazing mock-up of Ariane 5, almost the same scale as natural. The difference between original is small, only few meters, because of height restrictions of no more than 50 meters, related to the local aero-field localisation. We had a possibility to feel like Russian astronauts thanks to the short trip of the mock-up of the space station Mir.
The best part of the trip was to watch the Hubble 3D-movie and visit a special Mars exhibition, where a lot of interactive shows were available and all Mars rovers were presented.
Among these, the best of the bests was a device, which let you feel like astronaut walking on the Moon or Mars. It was a breathtaking experience!
Thanks to @florenceseroussi and @oliviersanguy – who arranged an access to almost every part of the Space City. Also thanks to @oliviersanguy, who has really great knowledge about the space. The tour with him, during which he was telling us many interesting details about the outer space was a real pleasure. Thank you Olivier!
After the tour we went to the @CNES Centre in Toulous with the rest of the Tweeps. The official part of the @ATVtweetup has then started. We received many interesting materials about ESA, CNES and ATV – for example a comprehensive ATV-3 information kit. After the programme review, made by organizers, everyone made a quick presentations about themselves. We were a very diverse group and some of us participated in several @Spacetweetup events before this one (famous @SpaceKate for example). For some
others (such as me) it was first time. For some, it was even first time in Europe, like for @mountainbase123 from Japan – she travelled specially for this @ATVtweetup!
First TweetupTalk was held by Massimo Cislaghi, the ATV-3 Mission Manager, who made an ATV-3 Mission Overview. We received many interesting information about the role that ATV plays in the European space industry and the European contribution to ISS project, ATV capabilities in comparison to some other space vehicles and ATV future.
Second TweetupTalk presentation was made by Bernard Cabrieres, who introduced us to CNES/CST and ATV Control Centre. It’s a pity, but because of temporary technical problems with my laptop I could not listen this presentation. It was a good lesson for everyone – remember to take with you tested devices, not the old ones! Almost three hours before the docking, we were split into two groups and visited the ATV- Control Center. It is hard to describe by words how amazing it is. I really envy ATV operators their jobs. It looks amazing – you can see it on photos.
After the tour, the third TweetupTalk started – made by an Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli (@astro_paolo), author of the one of the most notable photo made in space, member of the STS-120 and Sojuz TMA-20 missions. Paolo took active part in the docking of ATV-2 “Johannes Kepler” in February 2011. Paolo, during great presentation, told us about astronauts responsibilities during ATV docking. ISS specialists estimates that the astronaut’s support during ATV docking, which results in postponing their normal responsibilities costs 60 000 dolars/hour.
After Paolo presentation we have a chance to speak individually with some ESA/CNES engineers and ATV specialists. I regret that I didn’t prepare list of questions, but I learn of a lot – mainly about ATV rendezvous phrases. My additional task during the @ATVtweetup was to provide a thorough account of the ATV docking for kosmonauta.net (@kosmonauta_net). Because of so many things in almost the same time (TweetupTalks, discussions with experts, taking photos, making videos, tweeting, facebooking, watch docking broadcasting from ESA/CNES) it was really difficult to notice everything! Great experience!
Having this opportunity I would like to thank organizers for this amazing event. Mixing @Spacetweetup & ATV-3 docking was great idea. I think that everyone from us will remember especially the ATV control room and will be inspired to do more and more.
My new friends, I hope to see you soon! Seeing you and and spending time with you, sharing common passion of space was unforgettable adventure for me