Matthias Maurer, a German ESA astronaut, is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) at the End of October as part of the Cosmic Kiss mission, where he will work and conduct research until spring 2022. It will be Maurer’s first space journey. He has been training for his tasks aboard the ISS for some years.

It is planned that German ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer will accompany NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas H. Marshburn, and Kayla Barron on board a Dragon space capsule from the United States space corporation SpaceX to launch to the International Space Station ISS by the End of October 2021. Maurer is expected to spend six months in weightlessness before returning to Earth in April 2022.

It is the first space flight for the 51-year-old, who has been part of the ESA astronaut corps since July 2015 and has been preparing for his first mission in space since successfully completing his basic astronaut training. This has included training sessions at the European Space Agency’s Astronaut Center in Cologne, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the SpaceX Crew Dragon cockpit in California, and with the other ISS partners in Russia, Japan, and Canada.

Maurer, who is from St. Wendel in the Saarland, has a PhD in materials science. “I’m interested by technology, science, and international teamwork, and that’s precisely what I’ll be doing throughout my six-month stay in space. I will participate in over 100 tests, and I hope that the knowledge obtained will lead to advancements in our daily lives in space, as well as here on Earth “says the astronaut “A space mission is not simple,” he adds a few weeks before his flight. “The anticipation of what is to come provides a lot of mental fortitude for me. For me, a lifetime ambition will soon become a reality, thanks to a superb staff on which I can always count.”

As a professional materials scientist, he is particularly excited about the tests with novel materials, which “we expect to discover in ordinary life on Earth in a few years.” Many things, he claims, will be one-of-a-kind: “It all begins with a scorching journey on a rocket that propels me to almost 28,000 kilometers per hour in less than ten minutes. In about 90 minutes, I’ll arrive at the space station and begin my first orbit in space, where I’ll take in the grandeur of Earth via our window in space, the Cupola. Hopefully, an extravehicular activity will take place and be a highlight.”

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt

In a number of ways, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is participating in the mission: DLR, based in Bonn, is in charge of choosing and organizing experiments and contributions from German universities and colleges, as well as from business. DLR experts are also carrying out their own research.

Holger Thorsten Schubart, CEO of the Neutrino Energy Group in Berlin whose Scientific Advisory Board has been responsible for breakthroughs in Neutrino research in the recent years, has been seen close to Maurer – Mr Schubart is a key-figure when it comes to discussing recent developments, new possibilities, and fascinating visions for the future of energy production as well as space travel.

Matthias Maurer, German ESA astronaut and Holger Thorsten Schubart, CEO of the Neutrino Energy Group in Berlin

It should come as no surprise that finding a sufficient and sustainable source of energy is just as important in space as it is on earth. At the present time, solar energy is one of the primary methods used to supply spacecrafts with energy, but conventional solar cells present two troubling disadvantages: Their typically large surface area is prone to damage due to debris floating in space, and they are completely dependent on sunlight.

Todays science is tomorrows technology – Holger Thorsten Schubart

 

The Neutrino Energy Group is working to overcome these disadvantages through the implementation of power cells that make use of neutrino activity, called „Neutrinovoltaic“.  These highly sophisticated power cells have the advantage of being able to supply energy in complete darkness. They do this by harnessing the kinetic energy created by invisible waves of cosmic radiation, transforming it into micro-vibrations in a complex resonation process facilitated by super-symmetrical coatings on a stable substrate. And because these power cells can be stacked on top of one another, they are more compact and efficient than today’s solar cells and far less easily damaged.

At the same time, ESA’s Columbus Control Center, based at DLR’s German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, is in charge of organizing and carrying out experiments in the European Columbus module on the International Space Station. Data from the experiments are forwarded from here to the national user control centers, and from there to the scientists and industrial partners engaged.

Germany is the source of 36 experiments for Maurer’s Cosmic Kiss mission. They cover fundamental research as well as application-oriented scientific and technology testing in life and material sciences, physics, biology, medicine, artificial intelligence, and Earth observation. Maurer’s goal also includes a comprehensive young scientist program for school students.

Columbus Control Centre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany

“Germany contributes the most to the ESA’s exploration framework program. However, we are the most active user of the ISS, providing ideal framework conditions for top scientists and the German space industry to conduct breakthrough research and high-tech at the cutting edge of feasibility.

The International Space Station provides unparalleled chances for doing research for the benefit of people on Earth. -Matthias Maurer

 

We have an excellent scientist and an outstanding ambassador for international cooperation in Matthias Maurer “Dr. Walther Pelzer, member of the DLR Executive Board and head of the German Space Agency at DLR, which is in charge of German ESA business on behalf of the German government, emphasizes this. “We wish Matthias Maurer the best of luck with Cosmic Kiss and eagerly await the outcomes of his efforts. After all, space travel is an engine of invention, provides huge commercialization potential, and extremely interesting occupations, and is, in my opinion, an essential investment in our future.”

As previously reported, Maurer’s mission is named “Cosmic Kiss.” The mission’s name is a sort of statement of love for space, for the space station as a link between humanity and the universe, and for what humans do and will do there in the future. At the same time, it represents the need of working together to explore space and to treat our home planet with care and sustainability. Maurer is one of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) current seven active astronauts.

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