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European Space Agency

ENEIDE: An epic voyage old and new

ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori, from Italy, prepares for a final pressure test of his Sokol suit at the MIK preparation building.
Click here for a high resolution photograph.

It's not every day that a 2000-year-old story is linked to an expedition into space. However, on 15 April 2005, ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori will be launched into orbit at the start of a mission called ENEIDE.

Vittori's mission is named after an epic tale about the adventures of the Trojan hero, Aeneas, during a long, dangerous sea voyage to Italy. Instead of sailing across the Mediterranean, Vittori will be making history by becoming the first ESA astronaut to fly twice to the International Space Station (ISS).

Eneide mission crew
Click here for a high resolution photograph.

During the ENEIDE mission, the former Italian Air Force fighter pilot will be the flight engineer on board the Soyuz TMA-6 spacecraft. Alongside him will be the ISS Expedition 11 crew - Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev and NASA astronaut John Phillips.

Vittori will spend eight days on the Station, travelling around the Earth at a speed of 28,000 km/h. During this time, he will spend about 40 hours on various scientific experiments provided by Italy. He will also speak to some Italian school students and shoot video footage for an educational DVD.

"ENEIDE will benefit many areas of life and further expand the experience of the European Astronaut Corps," said Daniel Sacotte, ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration Programmes.

Vittori's voyage will end with a return to Earth in the elderly Soyuz TMA-5 spacecraft. With him will be the Expedition 10 crew (Leroy Chiao and Salizhan Sharipov) who have been in space since 13 October 2004.