The countdown has begun – in the early hours of 30 October 2021, at 02:21 local time (07:21 CET), German ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a commercial SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is a premiere for the 51-year-old materials scientist from Sankt Wendel, Saarland, who has been a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut corps since July 2015 and is one of seven currently active ESA astronauts. Maurer will live and work in microgravity for six months as a member of ISS Expedition 66. He will be the second ESA and first German astronaut to fly to the Space Station aboard a SpaceX spacecraft of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, after Frenchman Thomas Pesquet. Together with crewmembers Raja Chari (Commander), Thomas Marshburn (Pilot) and Kayla Barron (Mission Specialist) from NASA, he will be involved in many experiments on the ISS as a mission specialist. His daily routine includes helping conduct more than 100 experiments, 36 of them from Germany, until his planned return in mid-April 2022.
The DLR mission video can also be found on Vimeo.
To set the mood for the 'Cosmic Kiss' mission, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has produced a video that shows highlights of Maurer's preparations for his first space mission. He completed his basic training as an ESA astronaut in September 2018 and was nominated for his first ISS mission in December 2020. The video shows a review of the past 18 months of intensive astronaut training. The music is provided by German songwriter, musician and space enthusiast Peter Schilling. DLR and Schilling have previously collaborated on the trailer for the 'horizons' mission of Maurer's German predecessor on the ISS, Alexander Gerst. Schilling's 80s classic 'Major Tom (Coming Home)' accompanied Gerst to the ISS.
For Maurer's mission video, DLR chose the recent song 'All the things you are'. Schilling begins his ballad with the words "A hundred times you've lost the way and faced the world alone, a hundred miles since you’ve been running, a hundred miles out on your own," which is a personal look back at and insight into life. From DLR's point of view, the lyrics, particularly the refrain, "All the things you are and all the things you’ll ever be," reflect the change of perspective that Matthias Maurer as a materials scientist and astronaut will personally experience during his mission in space. At the same time, Maurer is an ambassador for all of us 'astronauts' who must treat our unique and vulnerable 'spaceship Earth' responsibly and conscientiously.
DLR is involved in Matthias Maurer's Cosmic Kiss mission in many ways. The German Space Agency at DLR, based in Bonn, is responsible for selecting and coordinating the German experiments and supplies for the mission and manages the German ESA contribution to the ISS programme on behalf of the Federal Government. Germany is currently the largest contributor to the ISS programme within ESA.