Tampa / Cologne (dpa) – After his return to Earth, astronaut Matthias Maurerin Germany has arrived. At 12:40, he boarded a Luftwaffe aircraft at the military section of Cologne / Bonn airport. “I am very happy,” Maurer said after his arrival.
He is still a little shaky on his feet, but otherwise feels good. After about six months at the International Space Station, the mason returned to earth with a picture book that sat in the water. The space capsule with 52-year-old Saarlander and three Americans landed off the coast of the state of Florida on Friday morning, restrained by four parachutes, as reported by the American space agency NASA.
Rescue crews boarded the ferry on a boat and assisted in landing. At the same time, Maurer smiled and raised both thumbs in the air. The 52-year-old makes a good impression, said Volker Schmid, manager of the Maurer mission at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). “So it looks very good. He will be able to recover a bit on the plane,” Schmid from the German Press Agency said. Maurer was expected to return to Germany late Friday evening. He had to land at the military section of Cologne / Bonn airport.
“Splashdown!” announced NASA as the Endurance capsule landed in the water near the city of Tampa at about 20 kilometers per hour and the parachutes collapsed. There was applause at the control center after landing in the calm sea in the Gulf of Mexico.
The head of space in Europe, Josef Aschbacher greeted the returnees on Twitter with “Welcome home”. Volker Schmid, mission manager at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), spoke of a “huge workload” that Maurer mastered in flying colors. Maurer was the twelfth German in space.
Almost 24 hours after being fired from the ISS, rescuers picked up four astronauts from the stretcher capsule. The vestibular system and muscles are still weak after the 177-day zero gravity mission. Dressed in black-and-white space suits, Maurer hand-made in front of the cameras, just like Kayla Barron, Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn. Maurer was the 600th person in space and the first German astronaut to land in the water. He had been researching the post of humanity since November 2021, went out to work in space and also brought material samples.
In Germany, Maurer’s physical fitness is defined, he said. Other research has looked at, for example, the aging of blood vessels, the effect of spatial conditions on the brain, and the impact of spatial radiation on humans.
The astronaut from the European space agency Esa was involved in more than 100 experiments during his mission called “Cosmic Kiss”, 34 of them from Germany, said on Friday CEO Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla from the German Aerospace Center (DLR). “The results will help us better understand terrestrial problems in areas such as biology, medicine and materials science.”
“Successful ISS mission under special challenges”
As ISS’s largest European partner, Germany relies on research for the future – and international peaceful co-operation, said Walther Pelzer, head of the German DLR Space Agency, in the wake of the Ukraine war. “We commend Matthias Maurer for his successful ISS mission, which met with special challenges, including global ones.
Tensions also affect the space station itself: Russia has recently left the future open for its share of the ISS for the period after 2024. The US is aiming for a mandate at least until 2030. It is unclear if and when the German next will work there.
Maurer was the fourth German on the ISS to run around the globe at about 28,000 kilometers per hour in about 90 minutes. It has been inhabited since 2000 and, despite its shortcomings, is considered a technical work. Three Russians, three Americans and an Italian are still working on the space station about 400 kilometers above the ground.
Only Russia, the US and China have so far sent more people into space than Germany. And Germany remains active: The Bundestag recently released extra money for space travel into its budget. This includes € 915 million for the ESA and € 370 million for the national space program – an increase of more than € 55 million compared to 2021.
When will the first German woman fly to the ISS?
So far, only men from Germany have been in space – when will the first woman fly? Space agencies point out that far fewer women than men apply. Esa is currently developing a new round of selection. “In particular, female astronauts can be role models for women,” says former Esa chief Jan Wörner.
Maurer, the man with the doctorate in material sciences, was the first German to travel to zero gravity on November 11 in a “Dragon Crew” capsule. It is also a sign of a paradigm shift in space: Maurer’s ancestors flew Russian Soyuz capsules or the American spacecraft to the colossus in space. The Maurer spacecraft, on the other hand, came from a private company: SpaceX, owned by Tesla boss Elon Musk.
Before returning, Maurer said he was looking forward to many things he lacked in space – such as a crunchy pizza and a real coffee, “foam latte macchiato”. He also wants many other earthly things like a walk in the fresh air. And: “To see and hug my friends. These are all things I could not have for six months.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220504-99-152983 / 13