Dutch ESA astronaut André Kuipers answering questions from visitors at the tenth annual ESA Open Day at the Agency’s technical centre ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
This year’s Open Day combined an in-person tour of ESTEC for visitors with disabilities on Saturday 2 October with an online event open to all the following afternoon.
The in-person event was formally opened by Head of ESTEC and ESA Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality Franco Ongaro, André Kuipers and former Dutch Minister for the Disabled Rick Brink.
With overall visitor numbers limited by continuing COVID-19 precautions, the aim was to give people with disabilities (and their carers) a special chance to see ESTEC – including those who might have found it impractical to visit the establishment amid the busy crowds of past Open Days.
Stands were set up by various ESA teams so that visitors could touch and hear, as well as see, space hardware and test equipment. Participants finished their tour with a question and answer session with André about his 204 days living and working in space.
Sunday’s online participants were greeted by ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher: “ESA is an Agency made of people, and this is your chance to meet many of those working behind the scenes.”
Highlights included a Q&A with German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, talks on future missions by ESA space scientists, presentations by ESA Education and Human Resources and a talk applying space recycling systems down to Earth – to convert pee into drinkable tea. The event encompassed multiple ESA establishments, including mission control centre ESOC in Germany, Earth observation centre ESRIN in Italy and space applications and telecommunications centre ESCAT in the UK.
Videos from Sunday’s virtual rooms will be available soon. For a full gallery of Saturday’s Open Day, click here.
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