ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst is training together with NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor at the the Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA. The training took place on 6 March 2018 in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility. The astronauts dealt with various emergency scenarios, including a fire in a laptop in the crew quarters, a fire in a lab module and a several communication issues. The goal is to prepare the crew for possible emergencies.
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 astronaut is now in the last stages of training for his challenging mission. 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.