Rotorschaufeln zum Thema Luftfahrt; Quelle: DLR, CC-BY 3.0

© DLR, CC-BY 3.0

The first mission to space of German ESA astronaut Dr Matthias Maurer, which will last for six months, is to start in less than two months. Thomas Jarzombek, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, will give Dr Maurer a send-off in Berlin today in the presence of Dr Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Thomas Jarzombek said: "I am very happy for Matthias Maurer and I wish him every success for his mission named ‘Cosmic Kiss’. Matthias Maurer will carry out numerous experiments during half a year, which are very sophisticated in technical and scientific terms and relevant for both our modern lives on earth and in the orbit. The fact that 36 of the planned experiments come from Germany shows that we are leading in Europe in this field.

The low Earth orbit has increasingly become part of the Earth’s economy. Private companies and commercial models – in other words 'New Space' – have become the yardstick for manned space flight. The German federal government also believes in the innovative potential of our aerospace companies as it promotes microlauncher start-ups and plans to implement a small satellite initiative.

I wish Matthias Maurer all the best in gravity-free space and I am already looking forward to welcoming him back on Earth and listening to his reports from space."

ESA Director General Dr Josef Aschbacher points out the significance of ‘Cosmic Kiss’ for the young generation and for recruitment in the field of STEM. He said: "In the course of his first ISS mission, Matthias Maurer will implement a comprehensive scientific and technological programme, also offering many activities for children. Our aim is to make space flight an experience for the general public and for society as a whole during his mission."

Alexander Gerst and Matthias Maurer are currently Germany’s two active ESA astronauts. Matthias Maurer will be the next German ESA astronaut on the ISS following Alexander Gerst. He will be the first German astronaut to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) on SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon spacecraft. After the launch from NASA‘s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, he will be the twelfth German in space – and the fourth German on the ISS.

Dr Matthias Maurer said: "I am delighted that we are ready to start soon. I have been working hard for many years to fly into space. I think that as soon as I sit in the space capsule on the launch pad, I will start to feel the excitement. I will let you know how I get on!"

In Europe, Germany invests by far the most in manned space flight. During ISS missions, technologies for future missions, including to the Moon and Mars, are also being tested. This comprehensive use of the ISS is part of Germany‘s Space Strategy and contributes to the country’s leading position worldwide.

You can find a summary of Germany’s space policy (in German) here.