ESA tour day inspires tweets and visitors

17 October 2011

“One of the things I learned today is that space organisations are too modest about the awesome things they do!” – a typical tweet from the ‘SpaceTweetUp’ hosted at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre during its recent Tour Day.

ESTEC, the European Space Research & Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, is the largest space facility in Europe, attracting scientists and technologists from across our continent.

This sprawling site is where most European space projects are born, developed and tested before their climb into orbit.

ESTEC is also the normal work place of Dutch astronaut André Kuipers – although he will be transferring to the International Space Station towards the end of the year.

'Tweeps' view ESTEC's Telerobotics LabAccess the image

More than 400 members of the public took advantage of the open day on 9 October to see behind the scenes of ESA’s technical heart.

Arriving at Space Expo, ESTEC’s visitor centre, groups were taken on guided tours of the facility.

The tours, in English and Dutch, included visits to the Large Space Simulator, used to subject complete space hardware to the rigours of life in orbit, and the Telerobotics Laboratory, designing remotely controlled robotics for space.

Some groups also saw the Large Diameter Centrifuge that creates ‘hypergravity’, while others took a 3D tour of the International Space Station.

The day also saw the latest SpaceTweetUp –a meeting of space enthusiasts on social messaging service Twitter, who share messages, photos and videos of their experiences.

Europe’s first SpaceTweetUp was hosted by ESA and DLR at the German Space Day in September. Now it was ESTEC’s turn.

A total of 21 Tweeps arrived from the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland. Together, they reached many thousands of followers.

The Tweeps were treated to their own insider tour, including trying out robotic control technology destined for the Space Station, and meeting ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang.

Christer highlighted the centre’s role as a catalyst for innovation, helping Europe do more and go further in space. The listening Tweeps’ tweets emphasised ESTEC as a source of inspiration as well.

“Days like these are a must for motivating youngsters to take beta lessons,” tweeted one. “Makes theory come to life!”

Just check the hashtag #spacetweetup to read more.

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