Frank De Winne, currently Head of the European Astronaut Centre, is the first European to command the International Space Station (ISS). Delivering a talk on his experience as a space scientist focusing on the theme “The new space economy: Earth observation in the context of sustainability” at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) on Wednesday, De Winne said that he was very lucky to see our Earth from above. “If you see our planet from above, you see that there are no borders. They do not exist in reality. When you see the Earth from the space, you realise how beautiful our planet is. The experience makes you more humble.
“At the same time, the planet is so fragile and vulnerable; and we should continue our efforts to make it more sustainable; we have to take good care of our planet!” De Winne said.
De Winne said that when we do research on space, the whole world should unite. “We should work without borders.” The flagship example of partnerships in space is the International Space Station.
The US, Russian, Japanese, Canadian and European space agencies have been operating this amazing orbiting laboratory for many years, continuously human tended. The astronauts have come from 18 different nations, and experiments from 93 countries have been carried out on the ISS.
Commenting on research activities on the ISS, Di Winne said that in the microgravity environment of space, our bones lose density, our muscles waste, and our cardiovascular system undergoes change.
“Research carried out on the ISS is helping us develop ways to mitigate these human health effects. The primary fields of research on ISS also include human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology,” he said.
His talk at SQU was organised by the International Cooperation Office at SQU, in association with be’ah and vito.