First mission abroad: Astronaut Matthias Maurer leaves the space station

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Here’s a surprise: German astronaut Matthias Maurer will leave the International Space Station (ISS) next Wednesday for a space mission. Maurer announced it on Twitter. It’s a huge birthday present for him, as Maurer turns 52 on Friday.

Bild explains the dangerous space mission.


This is the exit hatch through which Matthias Maurer will leave the space station for a spacewalkPhoto: AP/NASA

A spacewalk is an astronaut’s greatest honor, but it’s also extremely dangerous, so it’s not just a walk. But Matthias Maurer also practiced this during his many years of training at the European Space Agency and NASA.

Earlier this week, his two American colleagues, NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Raja Chari, were outside the International Space Station for about seven hours. They had to prepare to install a new solar system. The duo built an arch on which a futuristic solar panel (iROSA) will be installed. This is intended to improve the power supply of the plant in the future. Matthias Maurer leads this field mission as an initiated engineer. Now he got a second outdoor assignment. With Rhea Shari (44 years old) they should be released next Wednesday. Departure time is 1:50 PM CET. The mission is expected to last around 6.5 hours and will be broadcast live by NASA.

During their mission, Shari and Maurer will install pipes on a unit that run ammonia through the plant’s exothermic heaters to keep the systems at the correct temperature. The two will also install a power and data cable to the Columbus unit’s Bartolomeo science platform, replace an external camera, and perform other repairs to the station’s hardware. So a complete program.

Last weekend, the three astronauts were checking out their spacewalks. These suits are very complex systems that resemble a small spaceship. They must protect the astronaut from the aggressive ultraviolet rays of space and micrometeorites. It also has an air conditioning and communication system.


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ESA man Matthias Maurer during one of his many projects on the International Space StationPhoto: European Space Agency

NASA spokesperson: “Flight is very strenuous and requires maximum concentration.”

Italian Luca Parmitano nearly drowned in space when his helmet unexpectedly filled with water. As it turned out later, the culprit was a faulty pump in the spacesuit’s life support system. According to officials, this issue is now resolved. The last German to walk in space was Alex Gerst in October 2014.

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