Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
NASA Science

First European Commander of the ISS 190

Posted by timothy
from the shift-of-power dept.
RobGoldsmith writes 'ESA astronaut Frank De Winne became the first European commander of the International Space Station this morning with the departure of Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka who had filled this role since April. De Winne is the first non-American and non-Russian to take on this role. Watch the videos and view images here.'
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

First European Commander of the ISS

Comments Filter:
  • by los furtive (232491) <ChrisLamothe@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday October 11, 2009 @07:00PM (#29713991) Homepage
    ...to welcome our European overlords.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by noundi (1044080)

      ...to welcome our European overlords.

      Thank you. Now Europeans!

      Vorwärts!
      En avant!
      Adelante!
      Avanti!
      Eteenpäin!

      And to the rest of you: onward!

      • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @09:57PM (#29714841) Homepage Journal

        There are 23 official languages in the EU. And many more in Europe [wikipedia.org]. They'll be offended if you exclude them ;-)

        • by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @10:40PM (#29715073)
          He's probably OK. Generally, it only seems to be the French that get offended when it comes to language.
          • by houghi (78078)

            The English are offended if you don't speak their language in their country if you visit and are offended if you don't speak English in your country when they visit.
            Now the Belgians are offended if you speak their language in their country unless you visit. Strange people these Belgians.

            • by xaxa (988988)

              I think British people are either confused, embarrassed or stuck when speaking in foreign countries.
              - Confused, when they try and speak the language and screw up
              - Embarrassed, when the person they're speaking to can speak better English than they can
              - Stuck, when they eventually find someone that can't speak English

              There's not much we can do about it.

              I read a Dutch friend's blog this morning, and he'd written, "The [TV company] has finally modernised and produced the series in English". On the Debian German

              • by vlm (69642)

                Do most German people really understand enough English that using their computer in English is acceptable?

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Germany [wikipedia.org]

                Main foreign language(s) English (51%)

                Slightly better than 50/50 odds that you'll meet an English speaking German. Stupid people, old people, and little kids excluded, its probably much higher, perhaps 3/4.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_English [wikipedia.org]

                "English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by Germanic invaders from various parts of what is now northwest Germany and the Netherlands."

                Common anc

            • The English are offended if you don't speak their language in their country if you visit and are offended if you don't speak English in your country when they visit.

              A man who speaks many languages is called multilingual.
              A man who speaks two languages is called bilingual.
              A man who speak one language is called British.

              • by drsquare (530038)

                When you already speak the world language, what other language is there any benefit to learning? You can speak English all over the world, learn French and you might use it once in your life.

                • by noundi (1044080)

                  When you already speak the world language, what other language is there any benefit to learning? You can speak English all over the world, learn French and you might use it once in your life.

                  Well as much as I'd wish that was true -- it's not. All countries speaking latin languages have a hard time coping with English, some of them horribly (Spain, France, Italy) and others ok (Portugal). Other than that Germany has slight difficulties with English as well, while e.g. most of Scandinavia speak fluent English. This is only Europe though, I'm not sure what goes for South America, but from what I've heard they don't speak too much english either. In business however English is the key in almost any

          • Well, wit the British already knowing that they "are superior", the Germans hiding in the corner in fear of being called Nazis, the Spanish not understanding or noticing you anyway because all they ever speak or read is Spanish, and the rest being dominated by the former anyway, that's only natural.

            Still, going to another country, and not speaking to them in their language, but expecting everybody to speak one's own language, in so incredibly egocentric, it boggles the mind.
            With that attitude I could go to

            • by elrous0 (869638) *
              Actually, I think the predominance of the English language in business around the world has a lot more to do with the British Empire and its historic spread than any American egocentrism.
        • There are 23 official languages in the EU. And many more in Europe [wikipedia.org].

          Interestingly the article lists Russian as one of those European languages so either this should be the second European commander or the first commander from the EU.

          • Interestingly the article lists Russian as one of those European languages so either this should be the second European commander or the first commander from the EU.

            Possibly, the other Russian commanders were from the Asian part of Russia.

          • by selven (1556643)

            Well, the Kaliningrad region [wikipedia.org] is fairly deep into Europe.

        • by noundi (1044080)

          The joke was: those countries don't generally understand English. All except Finland, I just included Finland for shits and giggles.

      • by guruevi (827432)

        Except that Frank De Winne is Belgian (If I'm correct he was the first Belgian in space and has been knighted too) and thus speaks Dutch.

    • I heard the first thing he did after assuming command was offer asylum to Roman Polanski.
  • Russia... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AJWM (19027) * on Sunday October 11, 2009 @07:02PM (#29714007) Homepage

    isn't part of Europe?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Most of it is in Asia
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Historically, it's a province of Mongolia [wikipedia.org].

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dunkelfalke (91624)

        By that logic, so is China, India, pretty much the whole Middle East, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and so on.

      • by brusk (135896)
        Actually it was part of the Mongol empire, but that doesn't make it a province of Mongolia, any more than American Samoa is a state. The non-Mongol parts of the Mongol empire were administered very differently--as colonies, effectively--from Mongolia proper.
    • Re:Russia... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bureaucromancer (1303477) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @07:18PM (#29714137)
      More to the point, it's not part of the European Union, and as such has it's own space program. As such De Winn is the first form the European Space Agency, which imo makes calling him the first European within reason. Keep in mind that geographically the Asia/Europe division is pretty much arbitrary anyway.
      • Re:Russia... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tverbeek (457094) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @09:04PM (#29714611) Homepage

        Frank De Winne of the EU is the first "European" commander (and all the Russian commanders don't count) in the same sense that people from the United States are "Americans" while people from Canada, Panama, Chile, etc. are not. It's not geographically accurate, but it's culturally/politically meaningful.

        • by SBrach (1073190)
          Only if you don't understand context and believe that we should refer to every country by its entire name every time. Personally I would get tired of typing "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irelandian" whenever I wanted to to say "British."
      • ESA NOT EU (Score:5, Informative)

        by andersh (229403) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @09:05PM (#29714619)

        The ESA is not a part of the European Union and includes member nations outside of the EU and even Europe! Norway and Switzerland are members of ESA but not the EU. And Canada is a member but is not a European country!

        The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states.

    • by fake_name (245088)

      Technically Russia is part of Asia.

    • The answer is contained in footnote 16 [wikipedia.org] of the Wikipedia entry for Europe:

      The map [showing Russia in Europe] shows one of the most commonly accepted delineations of the geographical boundaries of Europe, as used by National Geographic and Encyclopedia Britannica. Whether countries are considered in Europe or Asia can vary in sources, for example in the classification of the CIA World Factbook or that of the BBC.

      In a nutshell: geographically, Russia is in Europe as it is west of the Urals. Politically, it is

    • We'll part of it is?

  • by wimg (300673) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @07:06PM (#29714041) Homepage

    A Belgian is now commander of the ISS and president of the IOC... and next year probably chairman of the UN Security Council :-)

    • by mce (509)
      Amazing what a single Belgian can do, isn't it...
    • by sconeu (64226)

      Ah crap. Now this guy and his 15 year old love slave will raise the ISS to be evil!!!

  • by icebike (68054) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @07:32PM (#29714185)

    What does being commander entail?

    In an emergency I suppose someone would be responsible for barking orders.

    But realistically everyone up there, (now that the Cirque du Soleil clown is gone) are professionals and scientific types, and virtually all work schedules are managed by ground support teams.

    Commanders in such a working environment generally are cajolers rather than of commanders anyway, but with the working environment I can't see them having much real need of a commander on a day to day basis, other than to lobby ground controllers for workload changes, or more snacks in the next cargo ship.

    I suppose if they are still bickering over who gets to use which toilet they might have selected the Euro guy to take the edge off the situation.

    • seriously... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by voss (52565) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @10:16PM (#29714891)

      Something happens on the space station and for some reason the station cant communicate with earth...whos in charge?

      The station commander.

      In an emergency he would make certain decisions such abandon the station or stay put.

      While ground controllers can give direction, you always want to have someone on site who can actually
        act on those directions and tell people what to do. A station commander is not for things you expect, its for the things
      you dont expect.

    • by khallow (566160)

      now that the Cirque du Soleil clown is gone

      That provided 20 million dollars or so of value to the Russian space program. Aside from demonstrating orbital assembly techniques and an embarrassingly small amount of engineering and science research, the International Space Station doesn't do that much. You should be thankful that it's actually getting used, even if just for space tourism.

      • by icebike (68054)

        That provided 20 million dollars or so of value to the Russian space program. You should be thankful that it's actually getting used, even if just for space tourism.

        Nice of all these useful idiots to fund the slow Russian take over of the ISS. If Russia has a problem coming up with 20 Million maybe they should step aside and let the EU run the place permanently.

        But I agree its probably a huge waste of time at this juncture as far as real science goes. Adding Tourism does nothing to make me even vaguely "thankful".

        The money would be better spent developing a "runway to orbit" capability: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/msnbc/Components/Photos/050527/050527_spacecom_whitek [msn.com]

        • by khallow (566160)

          Nice of all these useful idiots to fund the slow Russian take over of the ISS. If Russia has a problem coming up with 20 Million maybe they should step aside and let the EU run the place permanently.

          I'm not sure how this indicates that Russia has a problem coming up with 20 million dollars. But definitely, the EU seems the second most likely to get their money's worth out of the ISS.

          And there are all sorts of ways $100+ billion could be spent better in space. Personally, I think launch infrastructure actually is a bad investment (at least for the US) since private industry already exists for that. They'd be better off creating valuable infrastructure in space and helping to find some useful commerci

  • by hedgemage (934558) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @07:35PM (#29714191)
    A major gripe in the Russian psyche is that they are 'left out' of Europe despite the fact that the majority of their population is in what is geographically defined as Europe. Way to go and snub them.
    • And a major gripe in the European psyche is that we keep invading them and they never let us win!

      That's just bad form, old chap, bad form.

    • by andersh (229403) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @09:01PM (#29714591)

      There is an old Russian joke that goes like this:

      A guy dies and ends up in hell. Before his punishment is due, he's shown around to know what is awaiting for him. At one moment, he and his demonic guide pass by three large foul-smelling pits full of dung.

      One pit is bustling with activity - people climb out there every minute or so in large groups, and there are several demons with pitchforks running around the pit pushing the climbers down. The demons are sweaty and obviously tired.
      The second pit is mostly quiet, but occasionally a single guy pokes his head outside, and immediately gets pushed down by a young lone demon, who is otherwise standing there yawning.
      The third pit is absolutely quiet. There is a very old demon with chipped horns lying near the edge snoring and cuddling his pitchfork in the sleep. However, no-one climbs out of the pit.

      The guy looks at all this for some time, and then asks what it is all about. His guide explains:

      "The first pit is for Jews. They always stick together and help each other, and as soon as one climbs one step above the others, he stops and helps them get up to his level.
      The second pit is for Europeans. They're hardworking, but individualist and way too proud of themselves, so they all climb alone, each on his own.
      The third pit is for Russians. As soon as one of them climbs even a little bit higher than the rest, those below him pull him down by the legs into the dung so that he knows his place."

  • I wonder why the Americans tried to steal the show in the ceremony?
  • by Fear the Clam (230933) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @08:04PM (#29714335)

    Isn't thata great? He is full of De Winne!

  • we could see a Captain Jean-Luc Picard within a few years?
  • by NoYob (1630681)

    He received a Masters degree in telecommunications and civil engineering from the Royal Military Academy, Brussels, in 1984.

    I have this image of him building the rest of the station with concrete. The slump test may not work so well in orbit.

    • His bio (Score:3, Informative)

      by NoYob (1630681)
      Bio here [esa.int]

      I didn't check my tags above. Oh well. It's past my bed time....

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Seth024 (1241160)
      In Belgium, the civil engineering degree isn't what you think it is. It's more a general engineering degree with everyone choosing a specific major (chemical engineering, computer science, applied physics, elektro-mechanical engineering and "bouwkunde": the actual civil engineer...) His degree would be the equivalent of "Master of Science in Engineering: Telecommunications"
  • by hachete (473378)

    He's the second Belgian in space since Tin-TIn

  • Capitalization (Score:3, Informative)

    by dingen (958134) on Monday October 12, 2009 @03:17AM (#29716279)

    His name is Frank de Winne, without the capital D. The D is only capitalized when his first name isn't written. So it's commander De Winne, or commander Frank de Winne.

    Then again, I guess it's already impressive you guys put a space between "de" and "Winne".

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Then again, I guess it's already impressive you guys put a space between "de" and "Winne".

      Or didn't outright replace "de" with "the" thinking it was a spelling error.

  • After reading the summary and all the comments, I still had to check Wikipedia to find out which part of Europe this dude is actually from (Belgium).

    You guys know Europe is a continent and not a country, right?

  • For the record, Michael Foale [wikipedia.org] is a Briton who was commander of the ISS on Expedition 8 [wikipedia.org]. He was British/American with dual nationality, so one could argue that he was a European commander of the ISS.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb

Working...