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N° 15–2014: Call for Media: ESA astronaut ready for launch to International Space Station

19 May 2014

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will lift off from the Russian Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 20:56 GMT (21:56 pm CEST) on 28 May, heading to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. This will be the start of his six-month ‘Blue Dot’ mission as a scientist and flight engineer on the Station’s Expeditions 40 and 41.

As part of his mission, Alexander will perform dozens of experiments in physics, biology, human physiology and radiation. A highlight will be the installation and commissioning of the German-built MSL-EML electromagnetic levitator, a facility aimed for containerless materials processing in space. ESA’s ATV-5 cargo vessel will deliver the facility in July.

Alexander, aged 38, holds a doctorate in geophysics and vulcanology, and has been a member of ESA’s astronaut corps since 2009.

Born in the southern German town of Künzelsau, Alexander has spent the last four years training for this very special challenge. He will be living and carrying out scientific research in weightlessness, 400 km above Earth.

On the heels of Thomas Reiter and Hans Schlegel, Alexander Gerst is the third German ESA astronaut to visit the orbital outpost.


Media representatives will be able to follow the launch of the Blue Dot mission from three locations in Germany:

Launch event for VIP and Media hosted by ESA and DLR at the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen

ESA’s Columbus Control Centre (Col-CC) on the DLR site in Oberpfaffenhofen is the hub of this mission. Pedro Duque, ESA astronaut and head of the Space Operations Office, will provide the launch commentary, alongside the centre’s Flight Director.

Wednesday 28 May, 20:15–22:15 CEST (admission for media representatives from 19:30 CEST)

DLR German Aerospace Center

Münchener Straße 20, 82234 Wessling

German Space Operations Centre, building 140

Please apply for accreditation by Monday, 19 May by contacting:

Miriam Kamin, DLR

Corporate Communications, Oberpaffenhofen

Tel: +49 08153 28 2297

Mob: +49 172 7086162


The cutoff date for accreditation is 19 May.

ESA contact:

Andreas Schepers

Corporate Communications Office

European Space Agency ESA/ESOC

Tel: +49 6151 902546


Launch event at the Alter Markt in Cologne, jointly hosted by ESA, DLR and the City of Cologne

Cologne is the home of the European Astronaut Centre (EAC), where all European astronauts carry out their basic training. While they are on the Station, their medical condition is monitored from EAC.

The citizens of Cologne and surroundings are warmly invited to attend the launch of ‘their’ astronaut into space as part of this special public viewing event. German ESA astronaut Reinhold Ewald will commentate on the live broadcast of the launch from Baikonur. Entry is free, no registration.

Wednesday 28 May, 20:00–22:15 CEST

Alter Markt, 50667 Cologne

ESA contact and regional press accreditation:

Bernhard von Weyhe

Corporate Communications Office

European Space Agency ESA/ESOC

Tel: +49 6151 904204


Launch event as part of the Science Day series at Hessischer Rundfunk (Hessian Broadcasting Corporation), Frankfurt

ESA’s Space Operations Centre, ESOC, is located in Darmstadt. This is the home base of Thomas Reiter, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations. In cooperation with Hessischer Rundfunk, hrINFO Radio and ESOC, regular Science Days introduce the public to the latest space projects.

German ESA astronaut Gerhard Thiele will commentate on the live broadcast of the launch from Baikonur. Entry is free, no registration.

20:00–22:30 CEST, Wednesday 28 May

Foyer of the main studio at Hessischer Rundfunk

Bertramstrasse 8, 60320 Frankfurt/Main

ESA contact and regional press accreditation:

Nicola Gebers de Sousa

Corporate Communications Office

European Space Agency ESA/ESOC     

Tel: +49 6151-902266    



The launch will be transmitted live via satellite (details will be available on and webstreamed on ESA’s main web portal (in English) as well as on (in German).

ESA TV offers broadcasters extensive material on the mission and its preparation via special feeds from the Baikonur cosmodrome before the launch.

Broadcasters can consult for the latest information and footage

The latest high-resolution images can be found by registering on ESA’s Photo Library for Professionals:

Questions on images for media can be directed to

Further information on the mission

For more information on Alexander Gerst and his mission, visit:

Follow Alexander Gerst and the Blue Dot mission on social media:

Blue Dot blog:



About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe's gateway to space. ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU to implement the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

Learn more at

For further information:

ESA Media Relations Office


Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99