In photos: SpaceX’s Crew-3 astronaut launch for NASA

European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer of Germany. He’ll make his first flight to space on SpaceX’s Crew-3 flight for NASA.

Matthias Maurer, 51, is a German astronaut with the European Space Agency. He studied materials engineering before joining Europe’s astronaut corps in 2017. (He was retroactively added to ESA’s astronaut class of 2009.) He started out as a crew support engineer before graduating to astronaut candidate in 2015. 

Prior to that, in 2014, Maurer took part in the CAVES mission, an analogue mission where a team of astronauts live and work in an underground cave in order to simulate the isolated conditions of outer space.

He then participated in another analogue mission — NASA’s NEEMO 21 (NASA Extreme Environment Operations Mission) — where he and three other crewmates lived in an underwater habitat for 16 days. Maurer and his crew tested out technologies and strategies that NASA and its partners will use for future Mars missions. 

Maurer says he is bringing up some special German food to share with his crewmates. “It’s Ragu that’s made from potato soup — typical German food — and I’ll be sharing it with my crewmates,” he said during a prelaunch news briefing on Oct. 7.  “It’s a surprise for me, so I haven’t tested it yet. But I’m pretty sure it will be very delicious.”

He is the second European astronaut to fly on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, following the footsteps of French astronaut, Thomas Pesquet, who launched in April as part of the Crew-2 mission. He will serve as a mission specialist on the flight, along with crewmate Kayla Barron.

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