An astronaut from a brand new class of European spaceflyers says he is able to take flight.
Marcus Wandt is a “mission astronaut” from Sweden with the European House Company (ESA). Only a 12 months in the past, he was basically placed on name for some future spaceflight after his choice.
Now area is “extra actual,” Wandt mentioned in a livestreamed press convention Tuesday (Nov. 15). That is as a result of Wandt will make a two-week go to to area no prior to January 2024 to the Worldwide House Station (ISS), aboard Houston-based Axiom House’s Ax-3 flight. Ax-3 will launch to the ISS from NASA’s Kennedy House Middle in Florida, utilizing SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket.
“A lot has occurred,” Wandt mentioned of the whirlwind time he has had since he turned a “mission astronaut” on Nov. 23, 2022, not fairly a 12 months in the past. A dozen potential ESA astronauts are a part of this new class of people that handed astronaut choice however weren’t recruited by ESA till an energetic flight alternative introduced itself. Wandt, a lieutenant colonel within the Swedish Air Power, remained on responsibility together with his employer till ESA referred to as him up for Ax-3 in June.
Associated: Axiom House names Ax-3 astronaut crew for SpaceX mission to ISS
Axiom House payments Ax-3 as an all-European flight. The mission can be commanded by former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, a twin U.S.-Spanish citizen who additionally commanded Ax-1. The opposite crew members embody Wandt, Alper Gezeravcı (Turkey’s first citizen in area) and Italian Air Power Col. Walter Villadei. As Villadei flew to suborbital area on Virgin Galactic’s first business launch this previous June, Ax-3 can be López-Alegría’s sixth area mission, Villadei’s second and the primary for Wandt and Gezeravcı.
Beforehand throughout a media name in October, Wandt joked that the fast flight project meant he was doing his coaching “a little bit bit backwards.” A typical astronaut candidate does primary coaching for a few years earlier than being eligible for a spaceflight. As the primary mission astronaut anticipated to fly of his group, Wandt is as a substitute doing his mission-specific coaching first earlier than finishing the required primary coaching he’ll want: “We’re constructing on further issues that I did not have from the European House Company at first.”
Wandt acknowledged “difficult” moments within the coaching, however says the 4 astronauts are “serving to one another out, and we get in there actually quick. Once we be taught what we have to do, then we use the subsequent session to consolidate and agree [that] that is how we will do it then what if this occurs … these discussions are actually attention-grabbing, stimulating and it really works out nicely within the group.”
Wandt emphasised that for ESA, the company is hoping to make use of the mission astronaut program as “a special manner of having access to area” as through the use of short-term business fights corresponding to this one, there is a potential to “get human area flights accomplished.”
“It solely supplies extra effectivity and extra alternatives to stand up there and to proceed push our boundaries and acquire extra data, so it feels incredible,” he mentioned of this system.
Financing of Wandt’s mission was introduced in April 2023, two months earlier than his choice. It is available in half from the Swedish House Company, which says its places most of its cash into ESA and bilateral cooperation. Different companions embody the Swedish House Corp., Sweden’s Armed Forces alongside firms Saab and FAM, the company mentioned in an April 2023 press launch (translation offered by Google).
Wandt would be the third Swedish citizen in area, the discharge added. The opposite two people are Christer Fuglesang (who flew in 2006 and 2009 for temporary missions to the ISS with ESA) and Jessica Meir, a Swedish-American NASA astronaut who flew to the ISS for 205 days in 2019.