ESA Open Day invites people with disabilities – plus virtual event for all

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Enabling & Support

07/09/2021
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The tenth annual ESA Open Day is confirmed for the weekend of 2-3 October. A combination of in-person and virtual events, this is your chance to meet Europe’s astronauts and space experts and see spacecraft, hardware and test equipment in close-up. On Saturday people with disabilities will have a special chance to tour ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands, while the following day’s virtual event will be open to all.

ESA’s technical heart

With overall numbers of attendees limited by continuing COVID-19 precautions, on Saturday we are inviting people with disabilities (and their carers) to tour ESTEC – including who might have found it impractical to visit the establishment amid the busy crowds of past Open Days.

Up to 400 visitors at a time will tour ESTEC for a total of three hours during both morning and afternoon slots on Saturday 2 October. They will follow a route through ESTEC to meet ESA personnel and touch base with space hardware. All 800 attendees will have their visits concluded with a half-hour talk by Dutch ESA astronaut André Kuipers.

Then Sunday 3 October is the date of the virtual ESA Open Day. With all ESA establishments taking part, the event will be open to attendees from around the globe. Participants will sign into a virtual auditorium, then choose which talks or events they attend in different virtual ‘rooms’.   

James Webb into space

This Open Day comes at an especially exciting time for space, with long-laid plans soon to come to fruition, with final preparations underway for the first launch of Artemis around the Moon, the first step in an international programme set to return humans to the lunar surface.

Meanwhile the long-awaited flight of the NASA-ESA James Webb Space Telescope – the tennis-court-scale successor to the Hubble Space Telescope – will be taking place this year, due to be launched by Ariane 5 from French Guiana. And NASA’s DART spacecraft will lift off, beginning its daring mission to deflect an asteroid, to be followed up in turn by a close-up survey by ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defence.

Hera asteroid mission

Where do such audacious visions of things to come – and all our other innovations helping Europe explore space and improve life on Earth – originate? The answer, ultimately, is the human imagination; ESA, after all, is an agency made of people. So the theme of this year’s ESA Open Day is ‘Inventing the future’.

Whether digitally or in person, this Open Day will be your chance to meet the inventive people behind the scenes overseeing the development of cutting-edge technologies, advising on all aspects of space and leading our current and future missions – along with ESA astronauts sharing their own experiences of Earth orbit.

ESOC Mission Control

Highlights will include a virtual room devoted to ESA’s ESOC mission control centre, focused at the work they do to command dozens of European space missions. These talks will include the latest news on ESA’s newest endeavour, the Space Safety and Security programme, working to safeguard everyone on Earth from the baleful effects of space weather, orbital debris and incoming asteroids.

Do you have ambitions to get involved with the space sector? ESA Human Resources is organising a day of space careers talks, with ESA’s Education Office will give details of its work with schools and universities.

2020 virtual ESA Open Day

The Netherlands Space Office is also participating, sharing the special contributions made to Europe’s space efforts by Dutch companies and research institutions.

There will be an official registration for the online Open Day on Sunday, with a single ticket per household, which will be open soon.

ESA Open Day 2021

Registration for the in-person Open Day on Saturday is being arranged through organisations for people with disabilities.

In-person visitors are invited to attend with a single carer, as required. We aim to offer a safe, uncrowded and COVID-safe environment, but visitors will need to manage their own disabilities, in terms of bringing along wheelchairs or comparable equipment.

To respect Dutch COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday, all in-person visitors will need to wear face masks, unless exempt. You must also prove either that you have been vaccinated, been tested negative for corona or have recently had corona, by displaying your QR code from the Dutch government’s official CoronaCheck-app.

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