Nicollier and fellow astronauts pay flying visit to Berne

The government has been celebrating the achievements of one of Switzerland's high-flyers. Claude Nicollier (pictured front left) and six fellow astronauts were received in Berne by government leaders.

This content was published on February 14, 2000 - 12:39

The government has been celebrating the achievements of one of Switzerland's high-flyers. Claude Nicollier (pictured front left) and six fellow astronauts were received in Berne by the economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, and the interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss.

The six blasted off from Cape Canaveral aboard the space shuttle Discovery last December for a vital mission. They were given the task of repairing the $3 billion Hubble space telescope, which had been out of action for a month.

One of many highlights during the trip was an eight-hour spacewalk by Switzerland's Nicollier and the US astronaut Michael Foale. The duo had the difficult job of replacing Hubble's oudated central computer with a new $7 million model.

They also struggled to replace one of the telescope's guidance sensors, piano sized instruments used to point the telescope in the right direction. It was Nicollier's fourth shuttle mission, but his first spacewalk.

Because the timing of the mission was crucial, the crew were forced to celebrate Christmas in space.

Since their return the seven astronauts - Nicollier, Foale, Carl Brown, Scott Kelly, Steve Smith, John Grunsfeld and Jean-Francois Clervoy - have been keeping their feet on the ground. The visit to Berne forms part of a wider European tour.

While in Switzerland they also plan to visit the Space Science Institute, as well as the Universities of Berne and Basel.

From staff and wire reports




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