ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst is about to return to to the International Space Station. His last trip occurred four years ago in May 2014 making him the first of ESA’s 2009 class of astronauts to be sent into space for a second time. Since then he has been busy preparing for his next mission called Horizons. Continuous training helps astronauts to be mentally prepared to handle emergencies.
Alexander will be launched into space alongside NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. The trio will blast off from Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan and will arrive at the International Space Station two days later, marking the start of Alexander’s Horizons mission.
The mission is called Horizons as a symbol for the unknown and what lies beyond. As part of all Space Station missions, scientific experiments make up a large part of the astronauts’ time to broaden our horizons as humankind.
During the second part of his mission Alexander will take over as commander of the International Space Station, only the second time an ESA astronaut will take on this role so far.
The Space Station allows for long-term studies with humans in microgravity. ESA’s Columbus research module has been doing so since 2008 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
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