Learn more about the crew and the flight of the Marco Polo space mission from Europe.
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Learn About the Marco Polo Space Mission
This mission to the international space station had returned to earth after successfully delivering a new life boat to the station and making history by taking the first African into space. The cosmopolitan crew of the Marco Polo flight comprised with Italian astronaut, a Russian mission commander and South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth who had paid some $20 million for his participation in the flight. The three strong, crew had thundered into the big day skies with a perfect lift off from the wide open plains of Kazakhstan.
The perfect docking with the ISS took place in the morning followed 19 minutes later by the—into the station and a warm welcome by the resident crew. One of the crew, Vittorio a trained military test pilot described life on board the station with the Expedition 4 crew. He said it’s clear that changing the crew from 3 to 6 with the actual configuration of the station was not an easy task with the resources on board that are very limited.
During the 18 days in space, the Marco Polo crew attracted considerable interest. Vittorio was the third European astronaut to visit the space station and during his 8-day stay were servicing the four-European scientific experiments of the Marco Polo mission. Sponsored by the Italian space station C, the experiments ranged from studying the effects of cosmic particles on humans in space to more commercial experiments that assessed newly developed clothing. One experiment Chiron seen here was designed to understand the forces and pressure invoked by astronauts as they use their arms to move around in microgravity.
After 10 days in orbit, the taxi cruise safely descended to earth in the Soya’s capsule with the textbook landing on the plains of Kazakhstan. These last few moments will describe by the still visibly excited Mark Shuttleworth, the second space tourist and first African to visit the ISS by saying “It was all very sudden and very dramatic. I didn’t know what to expect. They told us when were to kilometer, 500 meters, and 300 meters and then just before the impact, so you would know when to brace but still the landing was much unexpected and very hard when it hits”.
Following their exciting return to earth, the crew enjoyed their first meal a little more sedate than the fun of eating in space. This meal on the final ceremonies marked the end to a successful 10-day mission. Marco Polo was another in a series of European manned missions to the international space station.