Did you recognize some of our “Men in Space” in the picture?
Not easy at all. On top left Alexander Gerst (41 years old), our current astronaut who sets out again for a space mission towards the ISS on June 6th, 2018. Next to him is Ulrich Walter, the sec ond neighbor is Thomas Reiter, bottom right is Ulf Merbold.
The others are: Sigmund Jähn, Gerhard Thiele, Reinhold Ewald, Reinhard Furrer, Ernst Messerschmidt, Klaus Flade and Matthias Maurer.
Hard to believe, already 25 years ago on April 25th, 1993 the German Spacelab D2 mission was sent into space for 10 days via space-shuttle Colombia from Cape Canaveral. The crew also included the German astronauts Ulrich Walter and Hans Schlegel. For the anniversary, four of the seven crew members met at the Technical Museum in Speyer: namely Ulrich Walter, Hans Schlegel, Jerry Ross, Tom Hendricks (both Americans). The latter was the pilot of the space shuttle.
Ulrich Walter, who meanwhile teaches at the Technical University of Munich, still shows enthusiasm. There are levers, switches and buttons all around him and he still knows exactly which device has which function in the Spacelab training module (a total of 90 scientific and biomedical experiments were carried out).
The work was particularly stressful because there was no window in the “flying barrel”. Instead cameras everywhere to observe and control each handling.
For years the astronauts had trained in this training module, the centrifuge (gravity / centrifugal simulation) or during parabolic flights (weightlessness). And yet, the reality of permanent living in weightlessness, eating and sleeping is more than special. Schlegel still remembers it very well.
“The whole organs are moving upwards, the face is puffing up due to increased water retention” … after all, a wrinkle smoother. He only felt improvement after several days.
All four patiently answer many questions of the audience. Where in the Spacelab front is front and back? And no, in the astronauts do not wear space suits in the spacelab, just normal comfortable clothes.
Despite tiredness sleep is difficult, because you feel no cozy pressure or the blanket for lack of body weight. Since everything is floating, the sleeping bunk needs to be fastened.
Yes, not to forget the obligatory cake photo, which is made before the start together with the relartives. However, it is not eaten at this time. The cake is rather frozen and consumed only after a successful return. “… and you can believe me,” says Walter, this was the best “family-coffee” I’ve ever had.
Good to know that these mentally stable and well-trained specialists, still have “butterflies in the stomach” before take-off. After only 8.5 minutes of strong vibration, the stratospheric limit is reached and the last fuel tank is rejected. The reentry takes about 12.5 minutes, as a reasonably soft landing (despite individually formed seats) needs to be initiated. … there is only one attempt for everything!
Well, our generation will probably not participate anymore in civilian spaceflights, but it’s still allowed to dream of the view on the “blue planet”.
To experience the feeling of weightlessness, there is still the possibility (for example in the USA or Russia) to book a parabolic flight, however, this is not for sensitive stomachs or instable circulation. Although there are tablets with which the rebellious gastrointestinal tract can be sedated versus the nausea- …. well. Link: http://www.migflug.com/jet-fluege/mitflug-im-jet/zero-gravity-in-us-usa.html
Alternatively you can visit the “Star City” (Swjosdny gorodok), one of the important training centers outside Moscow.
Link: http://www.bestrussiantour.com/en/space/about star city
Personally, I would like to witness a satellite launch from Baikonur (Kazakhstan).
Until further notice, I limit myself to try some astronaut food and to wear the original logo batch of the current “Horizons mission” … and to wish Alexander Gerst and his colleagues a safe return.
Incidentally, the dishes taste better than they look. They are freeze-dried (lyophilised) and thus remain lightweight and vacuum-packed for up to 20 years.
As of today the ice cream is used during NASA missions. When you open the package it somehow crumbles and the chocolate mass sticks to your teeth. Nevertheless, it tastes like ice cream, just not cold (cost € 4.50). https://www.weltraumladen.com or at https://www.dlr.de (Cologne).
My final suggestion:
If you want to experience floating and flight feeling around your body at an affordable price, you simply watch out for a BODYFLYING tube.
I’ve tried this harmless fun some years ago at Zurich airport. But as far as I know, this location does not exist anymore. Instead ou my try Hückelhoven under: http://www.air-power-arena.de/bodyflying/de/kontakt.htm
and at various other locations like Munich: ttps://www.flystationmunich.de/