Alexander Gerst ready for orbit

9 May 2014

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and crewmates Roscosmos cosmonaut Maxim Suraev and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman have passed their final qualification exam – they are now ready for their trip to the International Space Station on 28 May.

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Expedition 40/41 visit to Red SquareAccess the image

The Expedition 40/41 crew had two all-day simulation exams on the Russian part of the Space Station and the Soyuz spacecraft to test their responses and knowledge. To begin, the commander chooses a sealed envelope holding scenarios to be played out.

Alexander has been in training continuously since he was assigned to his Blue Dot mission in 2011.

Having passed this milestone, the astronauts have three weeks before being launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Traditional ceremonies and a period of quarantine are all that remains before the big countdown.

Last week, the crew visited Red Square in Moscow, Russia, as part of a traditional homage to fallen cosmonauts and signed a memorial book at the Yuri Gagarin museum.

Crew change

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Signing the ceremonial book at the Gagarin museumAccess the image

Three astronauts currently living on the Space Station are set to return to Earth today, leaving behind their colleagues Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Artemyev and Steve Swanson. Alexander’s Soyuz will dock in the morning of 29 May – just six hours after launch.

Also passing their exams this week was the backup crew of ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, NASA astronaut Terry Virts and Roscosmos cosmonaut commander Anton Shkaplerov. They crew will be launched in November as Expedition 42, once Expedition 40/41 are back on Earth.

Alexander’s Blue Dot mission will keep him busy with many scientific experiments, a planned spacewalk and four different supply spacecraft visiting the Station during his stay.

Follow the mission via Alexander’s social media page, his personal blog and here on ESA’s Blue Dot website.

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