September 25, 2018

Matthias Maurer officially becomes an astronaut

  • Maurer, second German member of the ESA astronaut 2009 class, has completed his basic training and graduated on 25 September 2018
  • Next up is mission-specific training to prepare for his first spaceflight
  • Focus: Space, astronaut training

On 25 September 2018, Matthias Maurer graduated as an astronaut – an accolade granted following basic cosmonaut training – thereby receiving formal approval for a flight into space. The ceremony took place in the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) site in Cologne.

"Germany has been one of the leading nations for space travel for 40 years now. The appointment of Matthias Maurer gives Germany another representative on the European astronaut team," says Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. "This ensures that the magnificent work of Sigmund Jähn, the first German in space, and our country's 10 other astronauts and cosmonauts, who have a total of 16 missions between them, will be successfully continued."

Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), presented Maurer with his certificate at the formal ceremony attended by invited guests. In addition to Professor Ehrenfreund, other dignitaries congratulated the German astronaut, who is a Saarland native. They included Armin Laschet, the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia; Tobias Hans, the Prime Minister of Saarland; and Thomas Jarzombek, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy. "We are all sharing the excitement with your colleague Alexander Gerst and his horizons mission at the moment. Therefore, the time to publicly announce your graduation is well chosen. I expect and hope – for you and for the sake of us all – that you too will be on a mission to space very soon. The German government supports this goal," says Thomas Jarzombek. Walther Pelzer, Head of the DLR Space Administration and thus responsible for German contributions to the European Space Agency (ESA) on behalf of the German government, adds: "Germany, with its 40 percent contribution, is the leading European user of the ISS. We can well imagine that the ISS will also be used beyond 2024, so we are especially pleased that Matthias Maurer has successfully completed his basic training to become an astronaut."

NRW Minister President Laschet subsequently took the opportunity to exchange views with Professor Ehrenfreund; with Hansjörg Dittus, DLR Executive Board Member for Space Research and Technology; and with Walther Pelzer, Head of the DLR Space Administration.

Only all-rounders and multitaskers become astronauts

Matthias Maurer joined the European astronaut corps in Cologne in July 2015. During his 18-month basic training, he had to learn and develop a whole range of skills, initially as a candidate for an ESA astronaut job. Extensive knowledge of scientific theory and practice, physical fitness and mental resilience were the basic prerequisites. During his training, the prospective astronaut became acquainted with the technical functions of the International Space Station (ISS) and gained medical knowledge, practised extravehicular activity in an underwater simulator, and learned to speak Russian and Chinese. From social skills to interdisciplinary expertise: only genuine all-rounders are capable of gaining the important insights required for technical progress in science and society under space conditions.

The graduation ceremony marked the end of Maurer's basic training. Now the journey of the @Explornaut, as he calls himself on Twitter, can really begin – to a space station or the Moon.


Andreas Schütz

Head of Corporate Communications, DLR Spokesperson
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Tel: +49 2203 601-2474