Prince Philippe at Soyuz Launch

  May 27, 2009 at 2:07 pm by

Prince Philippe of Belgium travelled to the Kazach steppes, to Star City Baikonur, where he attended the launch of the Soyuz, which carries Russian Cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk and Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne. The Soyuz is supposed to arrive at the ISS in two days.

Click to see image at Belga

Click to see image at Belga

Prince Philippe, who was also present when Frank De Winne came back from his previous space trip, attended the very last meeting of the astronauts with the press, family and friends. The Prince was welcomed, sat down before the glass wall behind which the astronauts are in quarantine, and said: “General, I am very happy to see you.” Frank de Winne is a General in the Belgian Air Force. He also told Frank that the whole of Belgium was with him in thoughts, and his 6-month stay at the ISS would be followed from down below. Frank De Winne thanked the Prince (in English), not only for his kind words and his coming to Kazakhstan, but also for his support to space travel in general. After that, the Prince wished the entire crew good luck.

When the astronauts were walked to the Soyuz Rocket, the Prince couldn’t decide whether to applaud them or take pictures. (He did both alternately) The Prince was also allowed to come close to the Soyuz, by which he was clearly impressed.

For more information about the event, see this thread.
For pictures, see this belga gallery. For a video clip, click here.

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