German astronaut Matthias Maurer will have to be patient. In fact, he should have started on the International Space Station and become the 12th German in space. Now NASA has repeatedly changed its plans.
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German astronaut Matthias Maurer can now depart for the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday at the earliest. First, a crew of four astronauts must be brought back to Earth from the International Space Station by the end of the week, NASA announced Friday. According to this, the closest possible start date for Maurer and his three colleagues at NASA is Wednesday at 9:03 p.m. local time (3:03 a.m. Thursday CET). This will allow them to reach the International Space Station on Friday at 1:10 a.m. CET.
For the first time in three years, a German astronaut is supposed to fly into space with Maurer. It is scheduled to take off with NASA colleagues Thomas Marshbourne, Raja Shari and Kayla Barron from Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida to the International Space Station. The four astronauts will be flown by “Crew Dragon” from Elon Musk’s private space company SpaceX.
The flight has been postponed several times
The start of the stay for the 51-year-old Saarland native, which was originally scheduled for this past weekend in October, has already been delayed several times – among other things due to bad weather and a “minor medical problem” for a crew member. NASA had recently announced that the medical problem would continue. This is expected to be good again before the planned start. There was no more information on this.
Recently, Monday was mentioned as the earliest possible start date. But on this date, there were concerns about the weather. The main concerns were strong winds in Cape Canaveral and bad weather on the itinerary.
NASA has now prioritized the return of the so-called “Crew 2”. These are French astronauts from the European Space Agency Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan MacArthur and Japanese astronauts Akihiko Hoshied, who have been on the International Space Station since April – on Friday that was exactly 196 days. Since Crew Dragon, with whom Crew-2 is currently working on the International Space Station, can only officially stay in space for up to 210 days, the return of the four astronauts is becoming more urgent with each passing day.
Crew-2 is supposed to clear the pavement
Crew-2 – with about 250kg of science experiments in their luggage – should now disembark from the International Space Station as soon as Sunday (7:05pm CET), then fly around the space station to take pictures for upcoming repairs. Possible and Monday (1:14pm CET) at sea off Florida. If the weather is not suitable, another option is to undo the docking on Monday.
A delivery between Crew-2 and Crew-3 aboard the International Space Station has already been planned. That has now failed, NASA astronaut Kimbrough said at a press conference from space on Friday. The mission will now be taken over by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hay, who came to the International Space Station in April with astronauts Oleg Noysky and Piotr Dobro. French astronaut Bisquet told the press conference that he was not nervous before the return flight.
With the flight, Maurer will be the 12th German in space, the fourth on the International Space Station and the first to fly there with the “Crew Dragon”. On the International Space Station, the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut will perform several experiments for a period of six months at an altitude of about 400 km, and will likely also complete an external mission. The last time a German cosmonaut reached space was Alexander Gerst in 2018.