HE Space - A gateway to exciting projects
World's leading exporter, pioneer in the energy transformation: Germany leads the field in global competition. But when it comes to aviation and aerospace, a field that calls for the most demanding technology and where the Federal Republic of Germany has a leading role to play, there is one very serious weak spot: no German woman has ever been sent into space. This is set to change. HE Space plans to send the first female German astronaut into space before 2020. The search for the right candidate is on: Women were able to apply until 30 April 2016 to take part in the mission.
In 1963, Russia sent Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman astronaut into space, followed 20 years later by the US's Sally Ride. In 1996, Claudie Haigneré was the first French women to go into orbit. Today, half of the astronauts in the US and China are women. All of the eleven astronauts sent by Germany on missions into space were men. And yet a number of politicians have come out strong in favour of the first German woman in space. Last year, Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, explained that after eleven men it was her "personal preference" to finally send a woman into space.
The "Female Astronaut" project
The project pursues three goals: A women astronaut will bring new life to Germany's aerospace sector. This female astronaut will be a role model who will encourage women and girls to set their sights on aviation and aerospace. During the mission, she will also conduct medical tests designed to examine the female body's response to zero gravity. Prof. Hanns-Christian Gunga, Director of the Institute of Physiology at Charité Berlin, is responsible for the scientific management of the tests. He explains: "Up to now, there have been very few examinations of the physiology of female astronauts. The planned mission will help to better examine the extent of the changes that occur during space travel, especially with a view to changes to the cardiovascular system, temperature regulation and the salt and water balance, as well as the skeletal system and the muscles of the body. It is likely that there are differences between male and female astronauts in space especially since men and women have different hormones."
The application and selection procedure
The successful candidate will be a German national with a university degree in engineering or science or equivalent military education as well as good physical and psychological fitness. Applicants will have to undergo psychological and medical testing from November 2016 to February 2017. A cooperation agreement with DLR has been signed in June 2016. The tests will be conducted at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Hamburg and Cologne. http://www.dlr.de/me/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-1760/
The final two astronaut trainees will be selected in March 2017 and start a training program in mid 2017. The mission to ISS in 2020 will be financed by crowdfunding and sponsoring.
"Germany has many highly qualified, promising female experts who are ideally suited for such a mission. A female German astronaut would give a new boost to Germany's aviation and aerospace sector. This astronaut would inspire women and girls to turn their sights to aerospace and engineering. A female astronaut would also have a standing that would go far beyond the country's borders. Germany now has the opportunity to write history again," says Claudia Kessler, aerospace engineer, CEO of HE Space Operations and initiator of this campaign.
Presentation of the Finalists
On 14 September 2016 we introduced over 70 of the best 120 candidates to the public and press in Berlin. After a rigourous selection 6 finalist were presented on 1 March. Their names Insa Thiele-Eich, Suzanna Randall, Susanne Peters, Magdalena Pree, Lisa Marie Haas and Nicola
Baumann. Each of them is a strong personality, top-qualified and has passed all necessary examinations for starting an astronautical career.
Astronaut training begins
On 19 April 2017 the secret was disclosed. We were proud to announce the two trainees who will begin their training to become the First Female German Astronaut. Nicola Baumann and Insa Thiele-Eich were selected ahead of over 400 candidates. They made it through the whole year-long selection process, including interviews, medical and psychological examinations and they convinced a committee of experts.
From left to right Insa Thiele-Eich (finalist) , Claudia Kessler (initiator) and Nicola Nicola Baumann (finalist). Nicola and Insa will start their training in July this year, so that one of them can fly to the ISS in 2020.
The committee of experts
The committee of experts came from a variety of backgrounds and consisted of from left to right:
- Astronaut, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Walter
- Minister for Economics and Energy of Germany, Brigitte Zypries
- Chair of the DLR Executive Board, Prof. Dr. Pascal Ehrenfreund,
- Board member of Airbus, Johannes von Thadden
The financing of the first training sections is based on a crowdfunding campaign.