Astronauts are busy beings. No matter how far in advance we plan their activities, at some point some very important matter can take precedence, and they have to dash off. In the space business we’re ready for this— we nominate backups, and in order to be ready to go we usually prepare for a hot swap. Now I’ll admit I was surprised that an astronaut had to cancel their participation at the very very last minute.
Who would ever want to back out of such a great event after all? I was taken by surprise, and I needed to ask for the nomination of a fifth crewmember who would be close enough to the astronaut world to be an active and easily integrated member of the team. No aliens allowed.
At EAC we have many suitable candidates. EUROCOMs and instructors alike are very close to the astronauts, work with them on a daily basis and participate actively to operations. They are extremely familiar with life and work on-board. In addition, sharing experiences with astronauts and cosmonauts during expeditions is very valuable. Building trust and understanding to improve communication can help during their daily work.
And so I could only be delighted to learn that Matthias was nominated as a fifth Cavenaut for our CAVES 2014 expedition. This year for the first time in the history of CAVES (since 2008), that EAC will be so well represented at CAVES. The feedback from my EAC Cavenauts will help me make CAVES an even better spaceflight analogue.
Welcome underground Matthias, the ESA CAVES team is looking forward to making you a member of the underworld.
Matthias Maurer BIO
Matthias has a PhD in materials science engineering and more than 10 years of related research and development experience. He joined ESA and the European Astronaut Centre in 2010 as Crew Support and EUROCOM and steadily began to take charge of EAC evolution projects like preparing future space flight operations with new international partners and kicking off new EAC projects to extend its expertise in exploration beyond ISS.
Matthias is very happy about his last minute slot into the CAVES team: He is poised to contribute with his operational EUROCOM and extensive R&D lab experience while also assessing the CAVES programme for participation of future international partners and spin-off experience for further EAC exploration projects.
He may be a spelunking rookie but we’re confident his love of nature will drive him to keep up with us.