The Flight Controllers in the Columbus Control Center in Oberpfaffenhofen attentively watched the launch of the Soyuz capsule, which will bring the European astronaut Frank de Winne, along with two further cosmonauts to the International Space Station. The Russian count-down ended punctually at 12:34 and with the mandatory "Pajechele" (Let’s Go) began the journey of Frank de Winne to the ISS - a six month OasISS mission with an ambitious European science program.
Also there in the first row at the Baikonour Launch site in Kazakhstan was the responsible Columbus Flight Director for this mission, Alexander Nitsch. He expressed his pleasure over the successful start and the beginning of an interesting time in the Columbus Control Center. "We will have plenty to do, in order to support Frank de Winne, but we are well prepared", commented Nitsch.
Another Soyuz crew member is very well known to the Columbus operations team, the Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk. Before starting his mission-specific training he worked at the Columbus Control Center as EUROCOM (the responsible person at the Columbus Control Center to communicate with the ISS crew). "These two astronauts are like old acquaintances - they form part of a reliable team with a harmonious and productive working relationship", expressed an excited Nitsch.
Thirsk and de Winne together with the Russian cosmonaut Romanenko will dock to the ISS on Friday, and thus for the first time in history the ISS will increase their regular crew to six persons. During Frank de Winne’s six-month stay aboard the ISS he will take over as the first European the role of the ISS Commander.