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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#218 - Matthias Maurer

This week Matt and Julio speak with ESA Astronaut Matthias Maurer who will be launching on a Crew Dragon to the ISS later this year. We also have a quick chat about some space news items and what we are looking forward to in 2021, in a bumper start of the year episode.

“Not that anybody’s asked, but New Years Day on the Gregorian Calendar is a cosmically arbitrary event, carrying no Astronomical significance at all.”

Neil DeGrasse Tyson


Matthias Maurer :

Born (Saarland), Germany, in 1970. Background mostly in materials science and materials technology. A world explorer: travelling, photography, cycling and hiking. Dedicated to learning foreign languages, fluent in German, English, Spanish, French and he is also taking intensive language training in Russian and Chinese.

Last Month Month December Matthias was officially announced as a crew member of Crew-3

Spacecraft commander - Raja Chari

Pilot - Thomas Marshburn,

Mission Specialist 1 - Matthias Maurer

Mission Specialist 2 TBA

Matthias Maurer holds several patents in the field of materials science and materials engineering.

Applied to the European Space Agency as an astronaut in 2008 with almost 8500 other candidates and was one of ten to pass. In September 2018 he was officially ESA’s newest astronaut, after graduating during a formal ceremony at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, which was also announced on episode 100.

On 28 July 2020, Matthias Maurer was announced as a backup for Thomas Pesquet for the ISS expedition 65. His own flight is scheduled to take place no earlier than September 2021 aboard SpaceX Crew-3,

Matthias will be the twelfth German astronaut to go to space after Alexander Gerst in 2018


Born on Jan 4th 1895: Leroy Grumman

was an American aeronautical engineer, test pilot, and industrialist. In 1929, he co-founded Grumman Aircraft Engineering Co., later renamed Grumman Aerospace Corporation, In 1994 Northrop Corporation bought Grumman Aerospace billion to form Northrop Grumman. Northrop Grumman is the industry lead for JWST

Jan 4th milestones:

1958 – Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, falls to Earth from orbit.

1959 – Luna 1 becomes the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon.

2004 – Spirit, a NASA Mars rover, lands successfully on Mars

News of the Week?

A couple of pieces of news.

Wooden Sats!!!

Catching the Super Heavy with an arm from the launch pad, ready for launch again.!!!!!


2021 Big Space Milestones


  • Three Spacecraft, NASA Mars 2020, China's Tianwen-1, and UAE's Hope are expected to arrive at Mars for orbit insertion in February. The Perseverance rover will attempt landing on 18 February while the Chinese lander will do so on 23 April.


  • Vega-C: Maiden flight with a performance increase from 1.5tons to 2.3 tons. This is the rocket that will launch Space Rider

  • United Launch Alliance plans to debut their Vulcan rocket,

  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries's H3 launch vehicle, scheduled to enter service this year, will cost less than half that of H-IIA, its predecessor.

  • Blue Origin plans to launch its first orbital-class New Glenn rocket with a reusable first stage.

  • SpaceX plans the first orbital flight of the fully reusable Starship.

  • Big year for small rockets?

  • Ariane 6: Ariane 6 Upper Stage Fire test at DLR Lapoldshausen,

  • Inauguration of the launch pad and static fire test of the core stage at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou


  • Oct 2021: JWST launch: The largest, most expensive, optical space telescope ever built, is planned to be launched to the Sun–Earth L2 point by a European Ariane 5 rocket.

  • Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will conduct a second uncrewed test flight in January and the first crewed test flight if all goes to plan in summer 2021.

  • Moon Launches: Multiple spaceflights to the Moon are planned to take place in 2021.

  • NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, the launches of commercial landers developed by Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines are scheduled.

  • Russia plans to resume its Luna-Glob exploration programme with the Luna 25 lander

  • India will attempt once more to deliver a robotic lander to the lunar surface with Chandrayaan-3.

  • Artemis 1 is planned to fly in November, the maiden flight of the Space Launch System and the first lunar mission for Orion.

  • China plans to start the construction of the Chinese Space Station (CSS), phase 3 of its Tiangong program, with the planned launches of the Tianhe core module and Wentian lab module. It will follow the launches with crewed visits of Shenzhou 12 and Shenzhou 13, interspersed with Tianzhou cargo deliveries.

Lucy Launch

Lucy, a NASA space probe will launch and begin a 12-year journey to seven different asteroids, visiting six Jupiter trojans, and one Main Belt asteroid.

On 4 January 2017, Lucy was chosen, along with the Psyche mission, as NASA's Discovery Program missions 13 and 14 respectively. The mission is named after the 'Lucy' hominin skeleton because the study of Trojans could reveal the "fossils of planet formation": materials that clumped together in the early history of the Solar System to form planets and other bodies. The Australopithecus itself was named for a Beatles song, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"

Lucy is planned to launch in October-November 2021.

  • In 2025, it will fly by the inner main-belt asteroid 52246 Donaldjohanson, which was named for the discoverer of the Lucy hominin fossil.

  • In 2027, it will arrive at the L4 Trojan cloud (a group of asteroids that orbits about 60° ahead of Jupiter), where it will fly by four Trojans, 3548 Eurybates (with its satellite), 15094 Polymele, 11351 Leucus, and 21900 Orus

  • After these flybys, Lucy will return to the vicinity of the Earth whereupon it will receive a gravity assist to take it to the L5 Trojan cloud (which trails about 60° behind Jupiter), where it will visit the binary Trojan 617 Patroclus with its satellite Menoetius in 2033.

  • The mission may end with the Patroclus–Menoetius flyby, but at that point, Lucy will be in a stable, 6-year orbit between the L4 and L5 clouds, and a mission extension will be possible.


Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos says it plans to begin offering space tours in 2021, launching two tourists into orbit. It's signed a deal with US space tourism company called Space Adventures, to fly the passengers to the International Space Station in 2021. The mission will be the first tourist flight to the station in 12 years, following the 2009 flight of Canadian billionaire Guy Laliberte.

Progress MS-15 would perform the planned deorbiting of the Pirs module on or around April 23, 2021. Pirs could become the first permanent ISS module to be decommissioned and would be destroyed during atmospheric re-entry. Nauka and European Robotic arm that has been sitting in a crate somewhere for years!!!!

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