The European Space Agency (ESA) officially announced that its astronaut Matthias Maurer will make his maiden space flight in 2021, going to the ISS on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. His mission will be called Cosmic Kiss.
Born on 18 March 1970 in Saint Wendel in Germany, Matthias Maurer was on the list of ten candidates selected for the 2009 astronaut selection from which the final choice of six was made. The German astronaut decided not to give up on his space ambitions and worked for the agency, but not as an astronaut.
However, in January 2017, ESA considered that it would have to increase its contingent of people able to go on a mission. Accordingly, Matthias Maurer became, in a way, the seventh selection of 2009, eight years later.
A MISSION NAMED COSMIC KISS
This doctor in materials science followed ESA training to become an astronaut and awaited his assignment to a first flight. It was officially confirmed on 14 December 2020. Matthias Maurer will take part in a long-term stay (about 6 months) aboard the International Space Station. To express his love for space, he called his mission Cosmic Kiss, the word “Kiss” containing “ISS” for the International Space Station (see the ESA video below).
It should be noted that the Cosmic Kiss badge is a double reference, both to the Nebra Sky Disc (one of the oldest known representations of the sky, dating from 1,600 years BC) and the Golden Record, the disc on the Voyager probes containing messages from Earth.
A TAKE-OFF WITH CREW-3
Matthias Maurer will take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule which is carrying out the journey for NASA as part of the Commercial Crew Program. He will therefore be the second ESA astronaut aboard such a vessel after Thomas Pesquet.
Matthias Maurer is thus scheduled on the Crew-3 flight and will have the Americans from NASA, Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn as travelling companions.
A US Air Force test pilot selected in 2017, Raja Chari will be commander and like Maurer will be on his maiden orbit. Raja Chari is also one of the eighteen astronauts recently selected by the American agency for the Artemis programme to return to the Moon. Tom Marshburn, an engineer and medical doctor, for his part has already taken part in two space missions: the STS-127 shuttle flight in 2009 and Expeditions 34 and 35 of ISS in 2012-2013.
The Crew-3 take-off is scheduled for late 2021, normally before the return of Crew-2, which means that Thomas Pesquet and Matthias Maurer should be aboard the ISS together for a few days.