Matthias maurer on his way into space: “space is addictive”

Matthias maurer on his way into space: 'space is addictive'

When esa chief jan worner finishes his sentence, the european astronaut center in poland goes quiet for the first time. One or the other in the audience murmurs an "oh!" To himself – then bursts of applause.

Worner, director general of the european space agency, has just made a promise to german astronaut matthias maurer. His sentence read: "we will manage to get it flown within the next three years."Which means no less than that maurer’s dream and that of many others shall come true: the next german will soon fly into space.

Maurer has already contributed his part. He has completed his basic education, which will also be announced on tuesday. He can now officially call himself esa-astronaut. Worner presents him with the framed astronaut certificate – a credential that only a select few on earth can hang on their walls. The only thing he lacks now is the training for the exact mission he is going to undertake one day – probably in the next few years, as you know. Maurer was the twelfth german in the all. The eleventh already prints the thumbs: "congratulations to my colleague @explornaut on the successful completion of astronaut training – to the stars!", tweeted "astro-alex" alexander gerst from the ISS.

The problem is the limited space to the stars. "We as esa have one flight to the ISS per year for the astronaut corps with just seven active astronauts," maurer calculates. Two of them are already served – the german gerst is currently on the international space station, the italian luca parmitano has a ticket for 2019. "That means we are now five colleagues in waiting mode," says maurer. The others have all flown, but that doesn’t automatically mean he’s the one to choose. "The others also want to get back up there," he says. "Space is addictive."

Maurer comes from st. Wendel in saarland, he has a doctorate in materials science. In 2008, he applied to the esa astronaut program and outdistanced more than 8,000 applicants. In 2017 it was announced that he is now part of the active esa astronaut corps – as the second german next to gerst.

Behind him lies a tough-as-nails education. In sweden, maurer was sent on a survival training mission in bitterly cold temperatures, with no sleeping bag, no tent, no provisions. He learned russian and chinese and spent 16 days in a station under water. The project is intended to simulate a mars mission.

In the U.S., maurer also trained in spacewalks in a giant tank that replicated the ISS. The aim of the dives, which last several hours, is to get to know everything that can break in a short time – and that’s a lot of. "So they really step on the gas and make you look bad on purpose," reports maurer. Since in this scenario your partner will pass out at some point, you have to keep a constant eye on him and then quickly move into the space station. "So you have to be mentally and physically 100 percent at all times," says maurer – always under the critical eye of the prufer. "After each of these dives, i was ready for the weekend."

The esa has edited a nice video out of all that. It’s a little reminiscent of the first episode of a superhero series, in which the protagonist learns what skills he has. The question now is when he will be able to show it off.

Matthias maurer weib that he will soon be everything in one: discoverer, ambassador, hero of the children’s rooms. Nevertheless, he also takes a very brief look back. "My grandfathers were simple miners in the coal industry," he says. "They never imagined in their lives that i would become an astronaut."


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