Dutch astronaut visits IEA after six months in space

25 September 2012

Copyright: OECD/IEA, 2012. European Space Agency astronaut André Kuipers with IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.

European Space Agency astronaut André Kuipers visited IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven on 24 September 2012, just two months after he completed a six-month mission in space that included science experiments that help scientists better understand the Earth’s relationship to energy issues.

Mr. Kuipers served on the International Space Station (ISS), blasting off from the Russian cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, in December 2011 and returning to Earth in July. During the spaceflight, he completed dozens of scientific experiments. One examined the Earth’s geophysical fluid flow under microgravity, improving knowledge about magma flow to improve earthquake prediction.

The spaceflight was his second: during his 2004 trip to the ISS, his experiments included a focus on energy efficiency, such as improving plasma lamps’ illumination by testing them without the effect of gravity.

Ms. van der Hoeven first met Mr. Kuipers in 2002, when she was the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, and she attended his first takeoff into space from Baikonur in 2004. While there, she was allowed to watch him enter the rocket, and she described the astounding force of the liftoff that she saw from only hundreds of metres away.

Mr. Kuipers, a medical doctor, is the second Dutch citizen to enter space.