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The Space Tweep Society European Branch

@SpaceTweepsIt’s been two years since the European Space Agency (ESA) first opened it’s doors to Space enthusiasts, and already the SpaceTweeps community has grown into a vibrant solid group in Europe, with new members joining everyday.  Inspired by some of the Society’s core U.S. members, who crossed the pond to attend the 1st SpaceTweetup on September 18, 2011 in Germany, the European SpaceTweeps have grabbed the torch and.. have been running ever since!

In the past two years, SpaceTweeps have been invited to more than ten Tweetups in Europe organised by numerous Space & Science Institutions such as ESA, DLR, CNES, OeWF, CERN, ISU etc., and they have spontaneously attended almost all major space related conferences and events on this planet, including the 2012 ISS Symposium in Berlin, Germany, SpaceFest V in Tucson, Arizona and the 64th International Astronautical Congress in Beijing, China. They have also  joined forces with scientists and space professionals in already organizing four SpaceUp un-conferences all over the continent.

While having tons of fun in the process, SpaceTweeps have been spreading their excitement and love for space exploration and scientific research to thousands of people, with their tweets, posts and blogs.  Happily, officials in Europe have not been shy in publicly acknowledging SpaceTweeps’ contribution to increasing outreach and public awareness of their activities on twitter or on their official websites.  ESA was even bold enough to host the second largest European SpaceUp in its Paris headquarters and to promote it on its official website.

The video below was produced, during last week’s ESA/DLR SocialSpace event, by Henning Krause of Helmholtz Association (CC-BY 3.0), who has been fascinated by the Society’s momentum and drive. Many claim that this says it all 😉

SocialSpace interviews: The Space Tweeps Community


Zoo calling space

Space events are everywhere. But even the more seasoned space enthusiast will not easily end up at a zoo. Yesterday Artis Amsterdam Zoo organized a live inflight call with ESA astronaut André Kuipers. As it happens, André Kuipers is a fan and  ambassador of the zoo. He even took the zoo mascotte ‘Artis de Marsis’ up into the ISS with him. To honor this good relationship between the zoo and ‘its’ astronaut, the zoo organized a live connection with ISS for zoo friends and local schools. (more…)

@ATVtweetup – watching ATV-3 to ISS docking

@ATVtweetup - watching ATV-3 to ISS docking

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.

Social meeting day before ATV-3 docking/Credits: @cpamoa

Social meeting the day before ATV-3 docking/Credits: @cpamoa

Social event
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

In Space City with Ariane 5 mock-up/Credits: @imperator_jarek

In Space City with Ariane 5 mock-up/Credits: @imperator_jarek

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!

Marvellous ATC Control Centre room in Toulouse/Credits: @imperator_Jarek

Marvellous ATV Control Centre room in Toulouse/Credits: @imperator_Jarek


@henningkrause during @ATVtweetup/Credits: @cpamoa

@henningkrause during @ATVtweetup/Credits: @cpamoa

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.

Massimi Cislaghi, ATV-3 Mission Manager talks about ATV-3 capabilities/Credits: @imperator_jarek

Massimi Cislaghi, ATV-3 Mission Manager talks about ATV-3 capabilities/Credits: @imperator_jarek

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.

Intensive time for organizers/Credits: @imperator_jarek

Intensive time for organizers/Credits: @imperator_jarek

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 🙂

SpaceTweetup: The Movie

Check out this great movie assembled by @giniexxcee of ESA’s first #Spacetweetup!

SpaceTweeps tweetup in Cologne: #SpaceKoelsch2

SpaceTweeps tweetup in Cologne: #SpaceKoelsch2

SpaceKoelschAfter the great success of the first European #SpaceTweetup, a bunch of European spacetweeps, led by DLR social media editor @HenningKrause, decided to start the new year with a new tweetup. More a networking event than a tweetup, it became the sequel to #SpaceKoelsch. Last September this was the pre-party to the ESA/DLR #Spacetweetup. Now the event in a typical Cologne beerhall became the main event itself. #SpaceKoelsch 2 was born!

With the date set to Saturday evening January 14th, a group of tweeps decided to turn the evening into a spacetweeps weekend, with a pre-party on Friday evening and an ad-hoc program during the day on Saturday. And again it was DLR’s Henning to jump forward and organize a perfect daytime spacetweeps excursion to two of Europe’s most famous radio telescopes, which happen to be near Cologne. A great start to a great new spaceyear! Here is a report of the event(s): (more…)

520 Days of Dreams and Hope

520 Days of Dreams and Hope

The Russian Phobos-Grunt mission may not have been the success everyone had hoped, but the dream of Mars exploration is far from fading. On November 26, 2011, the world witnessed the spectacular launch of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, including the new Curiosity rover, aiming to uncover the secrets of Mars and hopefully gather evidence of life on the Red Planet. It won’t be long before a shiny-new powerful rocket carries the first people on the Marsian surface!

But before a mission putting humans on Mars can even begin to get planned, we need to understand and master the difficulties inherent in such a long and unprecedented trip into the Solar System.

The Mars500 experiment, concluded on November 4, 2011, promises to deliver interesting results on the physiological and psychological effects that prolonged isolation has on the human body. During the experiment six ‘marsonauts’ (three Russian, two European and one Chinese) were sealed in an isolation chamber, in Moscow, Russia, for 520 days, i.e. for the duration of a trip to Mars and back. Mars500 simulated almost every aspect of such interplanetary travel, including time-lagged communications and a Mars landing.

To celebrate the successful conclusion of the mission, ESA organized the #Mars500Tweetup, on December 6, 2011 in Rome, during which 20 SpaceTweeps got to meet the two ESA members of the Mars500 crew, Romain Charles (@Romain_CHARLES) and Diego Urbina (@diegou).

Credit: ESA

Not resembling to the least the little green men you would normally expect ;-), Diego and Romain stood among us, tall and proud, looking happy and content – although admittedly a bit pale (…nothing a long and well deserved vacation on a sunny white beach can’t fix!).

Credit: @mgilbir

They talked to us about their lives ‘on board’ the modules, their training for this mission and the experiments performed during the ‘trip’. But, also, about everyday trivia of this amazing experience, like celebrating Christmas, New Year and Halloween, entertaining their monotony with music and art, as well as the secret recipe for Marsian Balls and Mars Pizza. Their eyes lit up when they described the docking and landing simulation on the Marsian surface, almost as you would expect if they had actually been there. We listened (..and religiously tweeted) as Romain and Diego took us on trip of dreams and hope into to the future of human spaceflight.

Undeniably, this mission was not a fun one to go through; it was hard and tedious and, probably, unbearable at times. As Diego told me on the eve of the Mars500tweetup, “it was in mid-August, on the completion of 438 days in isolation, when we received a message from cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, congratulating us braking his record for the longest time ever spent apart from the natural world, that I actually realized that we were doing something truly special”.  And he repeated during the Mars500tweetup: “being part of something greater than yourself is an amazing motivation.

Credit: ESA

The results of the scientific experiments will be released in the months to come. But, one result was already abundantly evident to me: Without having ever met them before, you could undoubtedly tell that, if the Mars500 mission has accomplished one thing, that’s to alter the crew’s perspective on life. In Diego’s own words, as documented in his Mars500 Mission Diary: “….this was not a journey into the cosmos, but a journey to know ourselves and our minds, to realize how important respect and communication are …, how fundamental are the links to the real world, thin and fragile as they may be…”. “We somehow ended up feeling a little bit more human than normal, by having been taken ‘away from humanity’”. “Forget about the things you don’t have and squeeze all the juice out of the things that you DO…!

Thank you Sukhrob, Alexey, Alexandr, Wang, Romain and Diego for giving up 1.5 years of your lives for the advancement of space exploration.


Check out the entire story of the Mars500 mission here.

1st European SpaceTweetup #Spacetacular!!

1st European SpaceTweetup #Spacetacular!!

On 18 September, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR, @dlr_en) and the European Space Agency (ESA, @esa) invited 60 lucky Twitter followers to the first European SpaceTweetup.  Among them some of our most prominent members, @flyingjenny, @herrea, @CraftLass, @travelholic, @amoroso, @marcozambi, @SpaceKate, @DrLucyRogers and @rocketman528. I (@akanel) was also lucky to be invited – and this was my first Tweetup ever!

The SpaceTweetup took place on German Aerospace Day at the joint DLR and European Astronaut Centre site in Cologne.  It was an amazing day, which not even the German grey and rainy weather could spoil!  …it did, of course, make our photographs a bit murky, but that’s about it!

The SpaceTweetup program was full and exciting.  So many thrills packed inside approx. 10 hours that could have easily been the object of two or more separate events.  For those who didn’t get to attend, a four hour (!) long selection of the best moments is available on ESA’s site.


Photo credit: @SimSullen

The day started very excitingly.  We visited and learned about the SOFIΑ Project (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), DLR and NASA’s impressive airborne telescope.  Mounted on a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified by L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, SOFIA has a 2.5 meter reflecting telescope, which makes measurements during flight!  High above the disturbances caused by Earth’s atmosphere, but also easily accessible for maintenance and modifications, SOFIA combines the advantages of space telescopes, like Herschel and Hubble, with the ease of ground based telescopes.

The science done on SOFIA is planned by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and the Deutsches SOFIA Institut (DSI) under the leadership of NASA Ames Research Centre.  Observing mostly in the far infrared, SOFIA will be used to study many different kinds of astronomical objects and phenomena, such as e.g. star birth and death, formation of new solar systems, identification of complex molecules in space (such as organic materials necessary for life), planets, comets and asteroids in our own solar system, nebulae and dust in galaxies and black holes at the centre of galaxies, helping to answer many fundamental questions about the creation and evolution of the Universe.

SOFIA Telescope. Photo credit: @Brigitte_Ba


SpaceTweetup at ESA Space Research and Technology Center

This Sunday 9 October, ESA will host a tweetup at its European Space Research and Technology Center ESTEC in the Netherlands. This facility is ESA’s largest facility. It is the technical heart of ESA, roughly comparable to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Most European space missions are developed and tested here. Facilities include a large diameter centrifuge, the largest space simulator vacuum and solar chamber in Europe, a robotics development department and the European Propulsion Laboratory.

ESA has invited 30 tweeps for this special event, which coincides with a public open day. It is an exciting time to visit ESTEC, as in a few months Dutch astronaut André Kuipers will launch to the International Space Station. In his blog André notes that ESTEC “holds a special meaning for me personally, because my aerospace career essentially began here.” In order for the Dutch space industry to support André during his stay in the ISS, ESTEC is home to the Erasmus User Support and Operations Centre (USOC). From this brand new facility André and other astronauts will be supported during scientific experiments in the European research module Columbus.

Please follow hashtag #SpaceTweetup on Twitter to follow your fellow spacetweeps during this exciting European event.

DLR-ESA #SpaceTweetup in Cologne, Germany

DLR-ESA #SpaceTweetup in Cologne, Germany

UPDATE: Several long-time spacetweeps were selected for this tweetup and will be attending. Look for tweets from me (@flyingjenny), @CraftLass, @travelholic, @amoroso, @marcozambi, @SpaceKate, @DrLucyRogers, @rocketman528, @akanel and more- follow the hashtag #spacetweetup and follow along with our #endlessBBQtour as we travel through Europe.

The DLR German Aerospace Center and the European Space Agency are hosting a #spacetweetup on September 18th in Cologne, Germany. From the tweetup announcement:

German Aerospace Day takes place every two years at the Cologne/Porz establishment shared by DLR, ESA’s European Astronaut Centre and partners Cologne Bonn Airport and the German Air Force.

For the first time, this year’s event will feature a variety of attractions with exclusive access for DLR and ESA Twitter followers.

The Space Tweetup will provide customised access, insights and opportunities, including:

  • Welcome by DLR and ESA Social Media Managers, Marco Trovatello and Fulvio Drigani
  • Keynote by NASA Social Media Manager Stephanie Schierholz
  • Chance to meet Thomas Reiter ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations and ESA astronaut, and other European astronauts
  • Q&A with SOFIA project managers/scientists
  • Various indoor and outdoor tours including:
  • Tour of ESA’s European Astronaut Centre
  • SOFIA, the NASA–DLR flying observatory using a heavily modified Boeing 747 SP
  • Airbus A380, provided exclusively by Airbus for German Aerospace Day
  • A300 Zero-G used by DLR and ESA for parabolic flight campaigns
  • Tour of DLR research institutes and facilities
  • Q&As with DLR/ESA scientists and project managers
  • Opportunities to meet the DLR and ESA social media teams, as well as fellow European spacetweeps
You can find more information and to register for the tweetup here. Registration closes Friday 5 August at 12:00 CEST.