From the Saarland into space
ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer is flying to the ISS in 2021. Introducing Germany's new man for space.
What would I like to eat when I'm in space? These thoughts are currently going through Matthias Maurer's mind. The Saarlander is to be the twelfth German astronaut to fly into space. He will probably take his first journey to the International Space Station ISS in 2021. "My French team-mate, Thomas Pesquet, is scheduled to fly at the end of March. I'm in a back-up position. This means I can stand in for him if there are any problems and then hopefully be part of the first crew for the next capsule that starts from here," he told the Tagesspiegel newspaper in an interview.
He is already choosing the meals he will be allowed to eat on the ISS in addition to the identical standard basic foods that everyone gets. The astronauts call these meals 'bonus food'. Saarland-based caterers have prepared specialities from Maurer's home region that have been adapted for space and which will be voted on in public. Maurer will take the most popular dish with him on his journey into space. "On the one hand, bonus foods like these Saarland dishes help to bring some variety to the usual space diet; on the other hand they enable us to share our culture with others and enjoy a little bit of home feeling," explains the astronaut.
He has a doctorate in materials science. During his time in space, his main task will be to conduct medical and scientific experiments, for example on the development of drugs. He already gained experience in this field before his time at the ESA. From 2006 to 2010, Maurer worked as a project engineer for a medical company, researching materials and techniques for the production of disposable medical products and blood filters for dialysis.
In 2008, Maurer applied for the ESA astronaut programme and was accepted. The ESA then appointed him to the 'astronaut corps' in 2017. He completed the coveted basic training a year later. "I'm looking forward incredibly to seeing the planet from the outside. I shall probably spend most of the time just looking down," said Maurer. Until he goes on his first space flight, he will be training in Houston, Texas, all the skills he will need for his time on the ISS: from space walks to setting up experiments in weightless conditions.