Spanish ESA astronaut Pedro Duque, will fly into space in the framework of the Spanish Soyuz mission ‘Cervantes’. His 10-day flight will include 8 days on the International Space Station. The Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology, through the Centre for Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), sponsored the mission within the framework of an agreement between ESA and Rosaviakosmos. The principle objectives of the mission are:
* To carry out a full scientific experiment Programme - ESA’s astronaut Pedro Duque will carry out a full scientific programme, spending some 40 hours of his eight days on the ISS on experimental activity. Most of the experiments are sponsored by the Spanish government although there are also a number of reflights of experiments from the Belgian Odissea mission to the ISS in October 2002.
Duque will also participate in a number of educational and promotional activities with the aim of bringing the European human space programme and research performed in space to a wider public, and young people in particular.
* To increase operational experience aboard the ISS - From a European perspective the Cervantes mission is important because it increases ESA’s astronaut experience ahead of the launch of Columbus, Europe’s own laboratory to the Space Station. Pedro Duque has worked previously on the development of Columbus. He reviewed its design in terms of operability and maintainability and checked on ergonomic aspects of its structure. The ongoing development of Columbus and its research facilities will benefit from the ‘hands on’ experience Pedro will get during his stay on the ISS.
* To exchange the station lifeboat: the Soyuz TMA-2, for the Soyuz TMA-3 - The Soyuz TMA spacecraft act as a lifeboat for the ISS for use in emergency situations. These are exchanged every six months to maintain the integrity of the on-board systems. The Soyuz TMA-2 spacecraft, which bought the ISS Expedition 7 crew to the International Space Station in April, will be exchanged for the Soyuz TMA-3, which will bring Pedro Duque and the ISS Expedition 8 Crew to the ISS. The Soyuz TMA-2 spacecraft will return with Pedro Duque and the Expedition 7 crew.
* To exchange the current ISS Expedition 7 crew for the ISS Expedition 8 crew - In light of the Columbia accident in February 2003, the Soyuz TMA spacecraft are currently acting as the crew exchange vehicles for the ISS permanent crews. The current Expedition 7 crew of Edward Lu and Yuri Malenchenko arrived on the ISS on 28 April 2003. They will return with ESA astronaut Pedro Duque at the end of his 8-day stay on the ISS. The expedition 8 crew will be stationed on the ISS for approximately 6 months and will return with ESA astronaut André Kuipers as part of his mission to the ISS in the April of 2004.