After the visit in Filton which Martin described in our last blog post, we did not only change city but also country and went to Holland. After some transfer buses and the usual confusion we made it to our hotel and went to sleep in our beds.
The fourth day we went to the city of Noordwijk and ESTEC – European Space Research and Technology Centre. Since our visit there was not scheduled until 1 PM, we were recommended to visit the SpaceExpo, the first permanent space exhibition in Europe (which, by the way, celebrates 25 years of anniversary this year). Here, we did not only learn about stars and planets, but also got to see how the astronauts spend their days in space, how it feels to be thrown into space in a space rocket, how high you can jump on the moon, the physics that makes our solar system work and a lot more. I’ll just let the pictures talk for themselves (with some help from captions) and warmly recommend a visit if you ever pass by!
After a few hours at SpaceExpo, it was time to move on to ESTEC. After a thorough safety check (which we by now are quite used to) we were allowed into the area where two friends of Christian, Liselott and Anders from his student time in Luleå, met us and had lunch with us. Thereafter the tour at ESTEC began. We first got a guided tour at their museum, where they among other things have a model of the whole space station ISS and some full scale models of parts of it. We also got to see space junk that has been up in space and down to Earth again. We got to see a guided 3D tour of the space station and some really beautiful pictures which the astronauts took at our planet.
After the guided tour we walked through the many buildings and met a project manager who talked about how they are using Concurrent Engineering in their development projects. For me, who have studied project management and product development models, this was a nice change to all the production facilities we’ve been visiting so far. After this meeting, we went to our last stop: a meeting with the development department of a new space robot which will go to Mars in a couple of years. There they have a 9×9 meter big area of sand and gravel which imitates the landscape of Mars. Since this robot is to be on Mars by itself, it also has to deal with mountains, canyons, rocks and sand. One of the problems the development team is facing is the fact that the signals between the control room and the robot will take so long time to reach, that they will only be able to communicate with the robot twice a day. It was indeed a very interesting talk we had with these engineers!
Finally, we said goodbye to ESTEC and went to the little city of Leiden, where we spent the evening with Christian’s friend Liselott.
If you want to know more about SpaceExpo and ESTEC, you can use the following links: