• Cyprus schools connect with ESA astronaut for first time

    Pupils from schools in Cyprus had on Friday the unique opportunity to link with an astronaut of the European Space Agency, during an event organised on the island for the first time, by the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO).

    The event, which took place in seven English – speaking schools, falls within the framework of CSEO`s mission to promote space education in Cyprus, the Organisation`s President George Danos told CNA, adding that this was just the beginning of a series of CSEO events, aiming to cover all schools on the island, promote scientific knowledge and form the next generation of scientists in Cyprus.

    The schools connected via Skype with Italian astronaut of the European Space Agency, Paolo Nespoli, who is preparing for his third space mission in May, to the International Space Station (ISS).

    Students had the opportunity to listen to Nespoli`s space experiences and get answers to their many questions, concerning microgravity conditions, the ISS, the experiments conducted in space, his training, his family, space walk, etc.

    Nespoli, who is an ESA astronaut for the past 18 years, first travelled into space in 2007 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on a mission which lasted 15 days, while in 2010 he again travelled into space aboard the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft to the ISS where he stayed for six months. His third mission will begin in May 2017 in the ISS.

    Addressing the students, Nespoli talked about space and the significance of space exploration for mankind and congratulated the pupils for their many and interesting questions.

    He talked about the first time he travelled into space saying that “I was amazed when I saw the Earth, the oceans, the Mediterranean Sea, my country Italy, Cyprus, the region. When you are in space you realise how beautiful and fragile our planet is, which we have to protect”.

    Referring to the ISS, he said that it maintains an orbit with an altitude of around 400 kilometres and a speed of 28,000 kilometres per hour, thus orbiting the Earth 16 times a day.

    An astronaut on the ISS, he said, experiences sunrise and sunset 16 times a day.

    Answering to questions, he referred to the activities of astronauts aboard the ISS, who, among other things, conduct experiments to the benefit of mankind and prepare the ground for the first manned mission to Mars, in the 2030s.

    He told his young audience that during their lifetime they will have the opportunity to witness the first landing of humans to Mars, or even go to the red planet. Cyprus, he said, being part of Europe, will have the opportunity through the ESA to send astronauts to the ISS or even to other places, such as Mars.

    Regarding microgravity, he said that at first there is a feeling of sickness, but as the human body gets used to the conditions, it reacts better. He showed them photographs of his previous missions on the ISS, saying that in space `you can fly on the ceiling and being on the ceiling or on the floor doesn`t make a difference, you can lift heavy objects easily, you are like a superman`.

    But he noted that microgravity can cause a series of health problems especially for the muscles, the skeleton, the eyes etc, adding that with physical activity and proper diet astronauts can overcome the problems.

    Nespoli, whose next mission into space begins in May, said he would very much like to make a space walk, pointing out the challenges of such mission.

    During his time in space, the Italian astronaut saw a lot of natural phenomena. Answering to questions, he said he saw volcanos, hurricanes, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights), even the destruction that the tsunami in Japan left behind in 2011.

    He advised students to follow their dreams, bearing in mind that hard work is needed in order to achieve their goals.

    The pupils and their teachers gave the astronaut a big applause and thanked him for his time to address Cypriot schools. Nespoli said he was looking forward to connecting with Cyprus again in the future.

    Pupils who participated in the event spoke to CNA, saying they were thrilled to have experienced such a unique event, which gave them the opportunity to learn a lot of interesting things about space.

    They said that they were particularly impressed by the astronaut`s explanation of what happens to the human body in conditions of microgravity and added that next time they look up to the sky they will have more knowledge concerning space exploration.


  • NASA competition back to Cyprus after Cypriot teams’ international awards

    NASA Space Apps Challenge, the biggest event for the development of innovative and space oriented ideas, is back in Cyprus for the fourth consecutive year.

    It is noted that last year, one of the winner teams of the Space Apps Challenge Limassol 2015, “ArachnoBeeA”, was selected by NASA’s judging committee as the global winner in the “Best Mission Concept” category, among over 950 participants from 135 cities.

    Besides that, the 2013 local winner team “MarsSense” was voted as the second best project worldwide in the category People`s Choice Award.

    The competition will be hosted on the premises of Cyprus University of Technology, in Limassol, the weekend 16 – 17 of April.

    Space Apps Challenge is a 2-day hackathon, which is organized this year in 200 cities around the world. Its main purpose is to bring people together, regardless of their background or skills.

    The NASA Challenges include data visualization, mechanical design, robotics, artistic approach, as well as business ideas for the next space exploration mission.

    The event’s planning is undertaken by a team of volunteers along with students of the Cyprus University of Technology, which is the main supporter of the Competition. CYTA, through its Innovation & Idea Development Centre, is the Strategic Partner.

    In addition, the event is under the auspices of the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO). Cutting Edge: An American Space, is the media supporter and the audio-visual work producer.

    The winners, who will be chosen by a judging committee of academia, industry and entrepreneurship experts, will represent Cyprus at the International Space Apps Challenge Competition.

    More information about this year’s event
    Teaser Video for Space Apps Limassol 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFFDrYqwCkE

    Registration and more information: https://2016.spaceappschallenge.org/locations/limassol-cyprus

    CNA/AAR/GCH 2016

  • Russian cosmonaut in Cyprus for the CSEO Space Week

    Russian cosmonaut Alexandr Volkov is in Cyprus for the Space Week 2015, which is organized by the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO),CNA has learnt.

    The CSEO Space Week 2015 will be held in Nicosia 20th – 26th of April 2015, with the aim to promote space exploration with various events and activities including a space exhibition, space outreach to schools, space lectures, space cinema nights, portable planetarium and fun space experiments.

    The Space Week is organized in cooperation with the Municipality of Nicosia and the support of the Russian Cultural Centre, ROSCOSMOS, the Confucius Institute, the Cypro-Russian Friendship Association, the China Society of Astronautics, the University of Cyprus and the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works.

    The program includes the visit to Cyprus of Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Volkov who made a world record of the longest stay in space. Volkov flew into space three times, to Salyut 7 in 1985 (64 days in space) and then twice to the Mir space station in 1988/1989 (151 days) and again in 1991-1992 (175 days).