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Handover of EU constitution to astronauts witnessed by politicians, children and royalty

A copy of the EU constitution was handed to Europe's astronaut corps on 11 February, in preparation for a voyage to the International Space Station. The idea was put forward by the corps because the constitution foresees, for the first time, the implementation of an EU space p...

A copy of the EU constitution was handed to Europe's astronaut corps on 11 February, in preparation for a voyage to the International Space Station. The idea was put forward by the corps because the constitution foresees, for the first time, the implementation of an EU space policy. 'The constitution will undergo full testing before going into space. It will be shaken and put under immense pressure. But you can be sure that it will come back,' joked Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen at the opening of Earth and Space Week in Brussels, Belgium. 'If you look at Europe from space, you see how fragile and vulnerable it is,' said the Commissioner, explaining why he is in favour of entrusting the constitution to astronauts. 'We need something to protect it,' he said, referring to the constitution. 'This has a very political message.' The handover was made at the opening ceremony for Earth and Space Week and its accompanying exhibition, which the Commissioner said will 'touch equally the imaginations of exuberant youth and of worldly-wise politicians and administrators. The varied audience at the ceremony indicated that this is indeed the case. The event brought together astronauts, politicians, children and royalty. Political messages were delivered by the Commissioner, the Luxembourg Minister for Research François Biltgen and European Space Agency (ESA) director Volker Liebig. All emphasised the importance of working together on Earth observation in order to ensure security and sustainability for our planet. 'I am hoping that the European governments will keep up the GMES [global monitoring for the environment and security] programme,' specified Mr Liebig. 'We need it to study global change and its impact, to reduce poverty and to ensure food security, and to deal with natural disasters.' While the furthering of political cooperation in space is one of the aims of Earth and Space Week, so is inspiring society in general, and particularly the young. 'Who knows how many children, seeing [the exhibition] this week, will be inspired to emulate the great scientists and engineers who have made these achievements?' said Mr Verheugen. Some 1,400 children had already been inspired enough to enter a competition to design a flag for planet Earth. The winners were present to collect their prizes from, among others, Prince Philippe of Belgium.