F A Q
How did the selection process for the first female German astronaut work?
The process consisted of several stages: interviews, medical tests, psychological tests. Just like in ESA’s selection processes, our psychological evaluations were performed by DLR’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Hamburg. Our candidates had to work on the same tasks as ESA astronauts, first on the computer and later in an assessment centre. In the end, 6 of 400 candidates passed the medical examinations. The entire selection process started in May 2016 and we finished it in April 2017
How do you get to the ISS if you don’t fly on a government mission?
We are currently talking to all international providers for flights to the ISS: SpaceX and Boeing are currently developing commercial crew vehicles for NASA which are intended to take astronauts to the ISS from 2020 and will also be used for commercial flights. We are working with AXIOMSpace (https://axiomspace.com/), who are organising our training, the flight to the ISS and the scientific mission of our female astronaut on-board the International Space Station. But also the Russian space agency occasionally offers commercial flight opportunities on their Soyuz rockets, which is how the first United Arab Emirates astronaut flew to the ISS in September 2019.
The first female German astronaut will likely spend ten days on the ISS in mid-2021. What will she be doing there??
Due to the delay in the development of the commercial crew vehicles for NASA, our launch date has been moved to spring-2021.On the ISS, our female astronaut is going to conduct several scientific tests, mostly associated with the reaction of the female body to an environment of weightlessness. From these medical test results, we will be able to derive important conclusions with real opportunities for medical applications here on Earth. Some of the core topics will be osteoporosis, vertigo and ageing processes. German scientists have so far only been working on these issues with third-party data. Part of our astronaut’s research aboard the ISS will also be tests in materials science, nutritional science, biology and climate research. These projects are commissioned by both research institutes and industry.
Where do the funds for this project come from??
Most of the activities for preparing and conducting the first female German astronaut’s mission are up to now financed by donations and voluntary financial contributions—unlike all the missions of Germany’s male astronauts, who travelled to space on government money.