Alexander Gerst

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Alexander Gerst
Alexander Gerst
Country: GermanyGermany Germany
Organization: European space agencyESA ESA
selected on May 20, 2009
( EAC group )
Calls: 2 space flights
Start of the
first space flight:
May 28, 2014
Landing of the
last space flight:
20th December 2018
Time in space: 362d 1h 51min
EVA inserts: 1
EVA total duration: 6h 13min
Space flights

Alexander Gerst (born May 3, 1976 in Künzelsau ) is a German geophysicist , volcanologist and astronaut .

Youth, Education and Life

Gerst grew up in Künzelsau in Hohenlohe . He passed the Abitur in 1995 at the technical high school in Öhringen . He then did community service at the DRK and then traveled to various countries as a backpacker for a year . Strongly impressed by the volcanoes of New Zealand , he began to study geophysics and graduated from the then University of Karlsruhe . He also studied geosciences in Wellington, where he received his Master of Science degree in 2005 . In 2006 he received a summer scholarship from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) . According to his own statements, his interest in space travel was aroused by his grandfather, who, as a radio amateur, used the moon as a reflector for earth-moon-earth radio communications . Gerst is now a radio amateur himself with the US callsign KF5ONO.

In May 2010, Alexander Gerst received his doctorate from the University of Hamburg with a research thesis on the eruption dynamics of the Antarctic volcano Mount Erebus . He also appears in various documentary films on space travel. For example, dealing with and training with g-forces is dealt with here.


Selection and basic training

Gerst during his first EVA mission

Gerst prevailed in the 2008 selection process of the European Space Agency (ESA) as one of the 8,413 applicants and was presented to the public on May 20, 2009 as the only German among six new astronauts. At the beginning of September 2009 he began his training at the European Astronaut Center (EAC) in Cologne and was appointed astronaut on November 22nd, 2010 after completing his basic training in an official ceremony at the EAC .

First space flight

On September 18, 2011, ESA nominated Gerst for a space flight together with the Russian Maxim Surajew and the American Reid Wiseman to the International Space Station ISS . The successful night launch of Soyuz TMA-13M was on May 28, 2014 at 19:57 UTC in Baikonur . As a flight engineer for ISS expeditions 40 and 41, Gerst was in space until November 10, 2014. After Thomas Reiter and Hans Schlegel, he is the third German astronaut on the ISS and the second of a long-term crew. His mission was called Blue Dot after the photo Pale Blue Dot , which shows the earth from a great distance as a "pale blue dot".

After his spacecraft was initially postponed in August 2014, it took place together with Reid Wiseman under the name US-EVA 27 or ISS-Expedition 41 - EVA 1 on October 7, 2014. During the six hours and 13 minutes of operation, a defective cooling pump was relocated and a new cable system was installed for the gripper arm.

On November 10, 2014, he landed together with Surajew and Wiseman at 3:58 UTC in Kazakhstan . A team of doctors from ESA examined how his organism adapted to earthly gravity after its weightless stay in space.

Second space flight, ISS command

Alexander Gerst after the Soyuz MS-09 landing on December 20, 2018

Gerst's second long-term mission began on June 6, 2018 with the launch of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft . As a designation of Gersts mission as part of the ISS Expeditions 56 and 57 took place, was Horizons selected. On October 3rd he took over the function of the ISS commander for three months as the first German and the second Western European . After 196 days in space, the Soyuz-MS-09 crew, consisting of Alexander Gerst, the Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopjew and the NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor , landed safely in the Kazakh steppe on December 20, 2018.

With this mission, Gerst achieved a total stay of 362 days in space and thus replaced Thomas Reiter as the German and ESA record astronaut.


Alexander Gerst, 2015
Entry in the Golden Book of the City of Cologne, June 2019

In 2007 Gerst received the Bernd Rendel Prize of the German Research Foundation for excellent young geophysicists.

On May 9, 2015, Gerst was awarded the honorary citizenship of his hometown Künzelsau.

Because of his important scientific work and his commitment in space during his ISS mission, Federal President Joachim Gauck awarded Gerst the Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class on January 13, 2015 and Federal President Steinmeier the Grand Cross of Merit in 2019. Furthermore, on March 5, 2015 an asteroid was named after him: (190617) Alexandergerst . On April 25, 2015, Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann presented him with the Order of Merit of the State of Baden-Württemberg in the Mannheim Palace . In July 2018, Gerst received the medal for scientific journalism from the German Physical Society for his publications that contributed "in an excellent way to the dissemination of scientific-physical thinking in the German-speaking area and far beyond".

"As an ESA astronaut, Gerst uses his media presence in television, print and online in an exemplary manner to inspire young people in particular for research and technology, which is of inestimable importance for attracting young scientists."

- Dieter Meschede, President of the German Physical Society

After the Academic Senate of the University of Hamburg decided in 2017 to award Alexander Gerst the title of Honorary Senator , the appointment as Honorary Senator of the University of Hamburg took place on May 10, 2019 during a major ceremony.

Also in 2019, Gerst received the Walter Kertz Medal from the German Geophysical Society and, on May 14, 2019, the Order of Merit of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia from Prime Minister Armin Laschet .

June 2019 to Gerst was at a reception by the Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker in the Golden Book one of the city. A month later he received an honorary doctorate from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology .

Commitment to environmental protection

Gerst repeatedly called for more environmental protection and climate protection and for the preservation of livelihoods. In 2015 he criticized z. B. the continued clearing of the tropical rainforest that he could observe from space. During the heat and drought wave of 2018 , he shared photos taken from the International Space Station, in which Central Europe was dominated by shades of brown due to many dried-up plants, and tweeted: “A shocking sight. Everything is dried up and brown, which should actually be green. "

In December 2018, one day before his return to Earth, he distributed a video, also recorded by the ISS on November 25, 2018, in which he addressed his future grandchildren and apologized to them on behalf of his generation. In terms of man-made global warming , various environmental devastations and wars, it seems that his generation has left the planet in a bad state. Everyone should think about where their personal behavior is leading. He hopes “that we can still get the curve.” People today know that their carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous climate change, destroying forests, polluting the oceans with litter and wasting valuable resources . He wished "that we will not be remembered by you as the generation that egotistically and ruthlessly destroyed your livelihood." At the same time, he expressed his hope that future generations would know better how small the earth actually is and how scarce it is Resources are on her.


  • with Lars Abromeit: 166 days in space. Frederking & Thaler, Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-95416-198-0 .
  • The second mission. In: Flug Revue No. 6/2018, pp. 72–76.

See also

Web links

Barley in the cupola
Commons : Alexander Gerst  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. DLR next - Snowboard, volcanoes and the dream of space: Alexander Gerst. DLR , May 3, 1976, accessed on February 3, 2017 .
  2. From Karlsruhe Geophysics to the ISS , press release 043/2014, KIT
  3. KF5ONO in the database of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  4. Alexander Gerst: The First Second of a Strombolian Volcanic Eruption. Dissertation, University of Hamburg, 2010, digitized version
  5. ↑ Enduring extreme G-forces - Alexander Gerst in astronaut training , accessed on July 28, 2019.
  7. ESA is recruiting new European astronauts for next-generation manned spaceflight and exploration (ESA press release of May 20, 2009)
  8. Europe's new astronaut class registers for training.
  9. ESA press release of November 17, 2010.
  10. German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst flies to the space station in 2014! ESA, September 18, 2011, accessed September 18, 2011 .
  11. Announcing Blue Dot mission logo. ESA, September 22, 2013, accessed February 20, 2014 .
  12. Alexander's space mission postponed @, accessed October 7, 2014
  13. Spacewalk October 7 for Alexander and Reid @ blogs.esa.int2014; Images: Astronaut Alexander Gerst prepares to go into space , accessed October 7, 2014
  14. Gerst: 'Only gravity pulls me down a little'. focus, November 10, 2014, accessed January 17, 2015 .
  15. ^ Esa: New Horizons for Alexander Gerst. In: Retrieved May 29, 2017 .
  16. Bayerischer Rundfunk: Astro-Alex is now the commander of the ISS. October 3, 2018, accessed October 4, 2018 .
  17. Astronaut Gerst back from ISS , the daily newspaper, December 20, 2018.
  18. Bernd Rendel Prize 2007 ( Memento from May 26, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  19. ^ Welcome party in Künzelsau - astronaut Alexander Gerst in his homeland , Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  20. Gerst receives the Cross of Merit: Order for the All-Communicator. Spiegel , January 13, 2015, accessed January 17, 2015 .
  21. List of medal recipients 1975–2019. (PDF; 180 kB) State Ministry of Baden-Württemberg, p. 61 , accessed on June 12, 2019 .
  22. a b dpg Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft press release No. 17/2018 (July 9, 2018): Alexander Gerst receives medal for scientific journalism , accessed on July 10, 2018
  23. Uni Hamburg, Merel Neuheuser: Cornelia Funke and Alexander Gerst receive honorary senators from the University of Hamburg. October 24, 2017. Retrieved December 15, 2017 .
  24. Jörn Lauterbach: Alexander Gerst: "Everything we have here is finite". In: May 10, 2019.
  25. State Order of Merit for 19 citizens in NRW. Retrieved May 15, 2019 .
  26. A look into space : Alexander Gerst inspires at KIT KIT press release 093/2019. Retrieved July 13, 2019.
  27. Astronaut Alexander Gerst warns of the destruction of the earth . In: Der Westen , February 2, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  28. Pictures from space: Astro-Alex shows how Germany is drying up . In: Südkurier , August 7, 2018. Accessed December 19, 2018.
  29. This is how Alexander Gerst's return to earth works . In: Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung , December 19, 2018. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  30. Alexander Gerst sums up perfectly what our problem is with a message to his grandchildren . In: Bento , December 19, 2018. Retrieved December 19, 2018.