24 April: watch Mission Alpha docking live

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Science & Exploration


French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is returning to the International Space Station on his second spaceflight. The mission, which is called Alpha, saw the first European to launch on a US spacecraft in over a decade. Thomas is flying on the Crew Dragon, alongside NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide.

Mission Alpha liftoff

The launch on 23 April occured at 10:49 BST (11:49 CEST), the flight to orbit took less than ten minutes, with just under 24 hours spent catching up with the International Space Station, for docking with the Harmony module planned for 10:10 BST (11:10 CEST) on 24 April 2021. 

In collaboration with France’s space agency CNES, the docking will be live streamed with commentary in English (Channel 1) and French (Channel 2) on ESA Web TV from 09:30 BST–13:45 BST (10:30-14:45 CEST).

These are the expected times for docking:

10:10 BST (11:10 CEST) Docking

12:15 BST (13:15 CEST) Hatch opens

12:45 BST (13:45 CEST) Crew welcome ceremony 

Launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, Thomas is the first ESA astronaut to fly on a vehicle other than the US Space Shuttle or Russian Soyuz.

Latest updates on the mission can be found via @esaspaceflight on Twitter, with more details on the last steps before launch to be published on ESA’s exploration blog via thomaspesquet.esa.int.

Background information on the Alpha mission is available at www.esa.int/MissionAlpha with a brochure at www.esa.int/AlphaBrochure

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