NewsGerman astronaut Maurer before space flight

German astronaut Maurer before space flight

Matthias Maurer had to be patient for a long time, but now it should finally start for the German astronaut. Together with three NASA colleagues, Maurer is supposed to start to the ISS.

Cape Canaveral – First the weather was bad, then there was a “minor medical problem” with one of the crew members.

Finally, the return of another crew was preferred: the German astronaut Matthias Maurer had to be patient for around ten days and remain in quarantine at the Cape Canaveral spaceport in the US state of Florida – but on Thursday morning, after many postponements, he should finally take off for the International Space Station ISS become the twelfth German in space.

Together with his NASA colleagues Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron – the so-called “Crew-3” – the 51-year-old Saarland native is to take off from Cape Canaveral in a “Crew Dragon” from Elon Musk’s private space company SpaceX and fly to the ISS . For the first time since Alexander Gerst’s flight in 2018, a German would be in space again. Maurer would be the fourth German on the ISS – and the first to fly there in a “Crew Dragon”.

ISS predecessor Gerst keeps his fingers crossed for him on site in Cape Canaveral. “When a friend and colleague flies, that’s great, you see it from another side. Matthias always supported me during my missions and now I’m here and can help him a little. “

The four astronauts recorded the postponements professionally and were still highly concentrated, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) kept saying. For the planners of the experiments on the ISS, however, the many shifts are a major challenge, said Volker Schmid, who is responsible for the mission at the German Space Agency at DLR. “Something will have to be rescheduled – but we will try to fit everything that was planned into the mission,” he told the German Press Agency in Cape Canaveral. Some things might be postponed to the next mission. “In two to three weeks we will have a better overview of everything,” announced Schmid.

The fact that only a three-person crew is on duty on the ISS for a short time until the arrival of the mason crew also has an effect. “With a three-person crew, of course, less science can be done overall. Because about two members are needed for so-called station keeping, ”emphasized Schmid. “There is then less science planned for a few days before and after.” The current crew will try to work through the projects.

“Carelessness can have fatal consequences”

At a time when space tourism is often talked about, the shifts would also show that space travel is dependent on many parameters such as weather, technology and health and is even more complex than, for example, aviation. “It is absolutely right to bet on security. Carelessness can have fatal consequences. “

Originally, the “Falcon 9” launcher with the “Crew Dragon” spaceship was supposed to take off at the end of October. But then it was time to wait. For some astronauts it feels like an eternity – others have more patience. The scientist Matthias Sutter advised the crew around Maurer to concentrate on another activity in the meantime. “I’m sure that all four won’t have to wait for something for the first time in their lives,” said the behavioral scientist and book author (“The Discovery of Patience”).

Everyone has a certain routine of dealing with delays. “Similar to ski racers at the start when there is an interruption. Some hide in a corner, others chat with their service people until things continue, ”said the director at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn.

Maurer the oldest German spaceman on a first flight

On the ISS, Maurer will carry out numerous experiments over a period of about six months at an altitude of around 400 kilometers and will also complete an outdoor assignment. “With between 100 and 150 experiments that we then carry out, there is a certain expectation,” said the astronaut. “I’ll do my best to really get the best results.” Maurer has “a lot of experiments and work,” said the head of the European Space Agency (Esa), the Austrian Josef Aschbacher. “His day will be full and his six months will go by pretty quickly, but it’s a really great mission.”

At the age of 51, Maurer is the oldest German astronaut on a maiden flight. The man with a doctorate in materials science left more than 8,000 candidates behind after his application to the European space agency Esa and trained for years for the journey into weightlessness.

Maurer also takes greetings from prominent musicians with him on the flight. “Die Toten Hosen wish Matthias Maurer the best of luck on his trip!” The Düsseldorf band told the German Press Agency. The background to this is the astronaut’s choice of music: Maurer had announced that on the way to the rocket he would hear, among other things, the song “Days like this” by Die Toten Hosen.

Until the start, the astronaut is still looking forward to it. “I’ve dreamed of reaching the top and just enjoying the view of our beautiful planet for a very long time,” said the astronaut. “The first thing I want to do in a free moment is to float into our space window and do a complete lap around the world, that’s 90 minutes, just to soak in myself and just feel what it means outside of ours Floating planets and seeing our planet hanging there in front of the black of the universe. ”Dpa

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