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Science & Exploration

N° 38–2014: ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst returns to Earth

9 November 2014

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, Russian commander Maxim Suraev and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman returned to Earth today, landing in the Kazakh steppe.

Their return, landing at 03:58 GMT (04:58 CET), was in the same Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft that flew them to the International Space Station on 28 May.

Alexander is now flying straight to the European Astronaut Centre (EAC), the home base of all ESA astronauts in Cologne, Germany. ESA’s medical team will monitor how he readapts to gravity after spending more than five months in weightlessness.

Media are invited to EAC on 13 November for his first public appearance. The one-hour event includes Alexander’s first-hand report and covers the science experiments he ran in space.

Alexander performed over 50 experiments during his flight on the weightless research centre as it circled our planet 400 km up. In just two weeks, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will continue many of the experiments and begin new ones when she is launched on her ‘Futura’ mission.

Highlights of Alexander’s ‘Blue Dot’ mission included installing ESA’s furnace that can suspend and cool molten metal in mid-air, a spacewalk to maintain and improve the Space Station, and the docking of Europe’s last Automated Transfer Vehicle – the largest spacecraft to supply the research centre.

A large selection of photographs from Blue Dot, most taken by Alexander himself, is available on the Flickr page:

The press conference at the European Astronaut Centre starts at 11:00 CET and will last for one hour, with a panel consisting of:

–      Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy Brigitte Zypries,

–      ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst,

–      Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations and former ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter,

–      Chairman of the Executive Board of the DLR German Aerospace Centre Johann Dietrich Wörner,

–      ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain.

The head of the European Astronaut Centre and ESA astronaut Frank De Winne as well as Johann Wörner, Thomas Reiter, and ESA experts will be available for interviews. For operational reasons, there will be no interviews with Alexander.

Media representatives can register for the event here:

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides 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. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, are likely soon to become new ESA Member States.

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

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing 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 develops and 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 about ESA at

For further information:

ESA Media Relations Office


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