ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst during his last week of training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA. Alexander reviewed the main tasks he has to perform during his mission. His training started two years ago and has moved from general maintenance classes to specific tasks related to the Horizons mission.
Among these tasks are work on the airlock, the replacement of umbilical equipment for Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs), testing of tools, review of experiments, making repairs and checking the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module.
Alexander will be launched on 6 June with US astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev from the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. Soyuz MS-09 will be the 138th flight of a Soyuz spacecraft.
The mission is called Horizons to evoke exploring our Universe, looking far beyond our planet and broadening our knowledge. His first mission was called Blue Dot. Alexander will take over command of the International Space Station for the second half of his mission. This is only the second time that a European astronaut will take up this leading position on the space outpost – the first was ESA astronaut Frank De Winne in 2009. Alexander Gerst is the 11th German citizen to fly into space.
The science programme is packed with European research: more than 50 experiments will deliver benefits to people back on Earth and prepare for future space exploration.