20 July 1969 was a historic day in space exploration. 20 July 2020 is a historic day in space education. The day where the International Space University (ISU) virtually launched 86 “crew members” from 30 countries into their respective space habitats onto a five-week online program called “Interactive Space Program” (ISP).
Mission operations are led by ISU ISP director Göktuğ Karacalıoğlu – alias the Captain – from ISU’s Mission Control Center on the Innovation Park near Strasbourg, France.
The launch sequence was followed by guests in the Cosmos auditorium renamed for the occasion as the VIP room. And as described by ISU president and alumnus Juan de Dalmau “we have a presence and representation virtually of every one of the ISU community here in the Cosmos auditorium. The virtual presence includes the 86 crew members of ISP20.”
“I let you guess how the crew is represented today!” added Juan de Dalmau.
ISU President thanked extensively the sponsors of ISP, especially its longtime partner “the Eurometropolis of Strasbourg”. Philippe Portelli, head of higher education, research and innovation at Strasbourg Eurometropolis welcomed the 86 participants.
ISU Chancellor Pascale Ehrenfreund and ISU Chairman of the Board Christian Sallaberger recalled how effective the network of ISU connexions can be in the careers of our alumni: “the ISU alumni network will really determine your future!”
Lisa Kucher – ISP20 Crew Liaison (Capcom) explained how the crew had been preparing for their five-week mission, and
François Spiero – ISP20 Faculty member (” Commander”) described the curriculum of the ISP professional development program.
Satoru Kurosu – ISP20 Crew Member and veteran from a previous ISU program talked about the impact of the ISU learning on his professional activities in Japan.
Philippe Geiss, a world-renowned saxophonist from Strasbourg played a piece in the honor of ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and gave a glimpse of what his next piece of space music will sound like.
In these exceptional times of COVID 19 and to follow a Russian tradition which consists in cosmonauts planting a tree before departing for space, 86 plants found a space in the auditorium. “They each bear the name of our dear crew members” said Juan de Dalmau. “And we invite them to come to ISU central campus and see how their plant is growing!”
Despite some minutes of hold due to data transmission difficulties, Captain Göktuğ gave the final countdown to a flawless launch that is taking the crew to three distinct destinations, Earth Orbit, the Moon and Mars.
From those outposts, the crew will practice how to produce quality work in a distributed environment on the topic of Space for the monitoring, prevention and mitigation of pandemics. Their findings and recommendations to decision makers will be presented on 21 August 2020.
Enjoy the ride and stay tuned!
More about ISP20
Photo Credits: Photo Expression Marc Dossmann