German ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter, a flight engineer on the Expedition 13 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS), photographed during his extra-vehicular activity (EVA) on 3 August 2006, performed together with NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (not in the picture). The EVA lasted for a total of 5 hours and 54 minutes.
"It was only when I removed my helmet that I noticed that something was different – it floated as soon as I let go of it. We had arrived in orbit," wrote astronaut Gerhard Thiele in his logbook when he flew on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission in February 2000. Astronaut Thomas Reiter was also full of enthusiasm once he had completed his extra-vehicular activity: "Anyone working on a space station is naturally happy to be able to work outside it. I could never have hoped to be closer to the Universe. One works outside the space station, travelling at 28,000 kilometres per hour, and is offered a view that is not available through a window; this is an overwhelming experience and an almost indescribable feeling."
Ten Germans have experienced microgravity to date as astronauts and cosmonauts. Many experience it on a single flight, others on several; Thomas Reiter can look back at two long-term missions with the longest stay in space for a German and Ulf Merbold has been the most German frequent visitor to orbit, with three missions in eleven years. Not everyone who joins the astronaut corps actually makes it into space – Eberhard Köllner, Renate Brümmer and Heike Walpot remained on the ground as backup astronauts. Alexander Gerst has been on the International Space Station twice. On 28 May 2014, he embarked on his first mission, which lasted six months, and on 6 June 2018 on his second mission.
"Reaching new horizons and conquering them is what drives us humans. The ISS gives us the opportunity to leave our ‘spaceship Earth’. The Space Station is not just a one-of-a-kind laboratory, but also the first spacecraft that shows us how to live together in a multicultural community beyond our planet Earth. For me, horizons is also the perfect continuation of my Blue Dot mission, for which the focus was on our blue planet. With horizons, I am looking forward to broadening my horizons even further," said Gerst. Matthias Maurer was appointed by ESA as a member of the astronaut corps, making him the newest German astronaut.
German astronauts and their missions
Last modified:04/02/2019 11:52:28