On the 24th 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). This event was held at the the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse in France.
I would like to thank @Jools_MY, who provided me the details about this opportunity. This was the first Spacetweetup for me.
Our schedule was very tight. On the evening before the docking day (27th of March), few of us met at the restaurant in front of Toulouse’s Capitol, where we were joined by the Italian astronaut – Paolo Naspoli (@ astro_paolo).
Space City in Toulouse
Next day, in the morning our small group (@DCirioni_AVDA, @cpamoa, @GENSO_UVa, @ScottNyood and the author of this report – @imperator_jarek) visited the Space City in Toulouse. Our group 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 related to the local airport. We had also a possibility to feel like Russian cosmonauts during a short venture into the mock-up of the Mir space station. Next, our group watched the Hubble 3D-movie and visited a special Mars exhibition. At this exhibition there was a device, which lets you feel like an astronaut walking on the Moon or Mars. It was a breathtaking experience!
Many thanks to @florenceseroussi and @oliviersanguy – who arranged an access to almost every part of the Space City. Also, I would like to thank @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.
After the Space City tour we went to the CNES Centre in Toulouse with the rest of the event participants, where the official part of the #ATVtweetup started. After the programme review, made by organizers, every participant made a quick presentations about themselves. We were a very diverse group and some of us participated in several Spacetweetup events before this one. 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. He presented many interesting details 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 the ATV future. Second TweetupTalk presentation was made by Bernard Cabrieres, who introduced us to CNES/CST and ATV Control Centre. 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.
After the tour, the third TweetupTalk started – made by an Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli (@astro_paolo), author of amazing photos made when shuttle Endeavour was docked to ISS in May 2011. What is important to the ATV is that Paolo took an 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.
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 earlier, 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 at 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!
I would like to thank organizers for this amazing event. Mixing Spacetweetup & ATV-3 docking was a 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.