Alexander Gerst

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Alexander Gerst
Alexander Gerst, official portrait in 2017.jpg
ESA astronaut
Status Active
Born (1976-05-03) 3 May 1976 (age 42)
Künzelsau, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
Other occupation
Time in space
Currently in space
Selection 2009 ESA Group
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
6 hours 13 minutes
Missions Soyuz TMA-13M (Expedition 40/41) Soyuz MS-09 (Expedition 56/57)
Mission insignia
Soyuz-TMA-13M-Mission-Patch.png ISS Expedition 40 Patch.png ISS Expedition 41 Patch.svg
Soyuz-MS-09-Mission-Patch.png ISS Expedition 56 Patch.png ISS Expedition 57 Patch.png
Awards Bernd Rendel-Preis

Dr. Alexander Gerst (born 3 May 1976 in Künzelsau, Baden-Württemberg) is a German European Space Agency astronaut and geophysicist, who was selected in 2009 to take part in space training. He was part of the International Space Station Expedition 40 and 41 from May to November 2014. Gerst returned to space on June 6, 2018, as part of Expedition 56/57.

Education and Research[edit]

Gerst graduated from the Technical High School in Öhringen, Germany, in 1995. While in highschool, he volunteered as a scout leader, fire-fighter and water rescue lifeguard.[1]

Gerst studied at the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, where he received a degree in geophysics with distinction.[1]

From 1998 to 2003 Gerst participated in several international scientific collaborations and field experiments, including some in remote locations such as Antarctica.[1]

From 2001 to 2003, Gerst continued to study for a master in Earth sciences at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. while researching his master’s thesis, he developed new volcano monitoring techniques that might improve forecasts of volcanic eruptions. His results were published in Science Magazine.[2]

Gerst has worked as a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics between 2004 and 2009, and received his doctorate in natural sciences at the University of Hamburg in 2010, with a dissertation on geophysics and volcanic eruption dynamics.

In 2007 Alexander received the Bernd Rendel award for outstanding research from the DFG German Research Foundation.[3]. Gerst has published several papers, including results published in Nature magazine.[4]

In ESA[edit]

He was officially selected as an astronaut in 2009 by the European Space Agency.[5]

Expedition 40/41[edit]

He visited space as part of the Expedition 40/41 International Space Station crew from May to November 2014.[6][7] On 7 October 2014, Gerst performed his first EVA with Reid Wiseman. The astronauts moved a failed cooling pump from temporary to long-term storage on the station's truss. They also installed a new relay system that will provide backup power options to the mobile transporter, which moves the large robotic arm around the out outside of the space station. The duration of the EVA was 6 hours and 13 minutes.[8]

Gerst pictured during his first EVA

On 10 November 2014 at 03:58 UTC (04:58 CET), he landed back on Earth in the same Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft that flew him to the International Space Station on 28 May along with Russian commander Maxim Suraev and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman.

Gerst's 6-month mission to the ISS was named "Blue Dot"[9]. The mission's name is reminicent to Carl Sagan's famous description of Earth as a "pale blue dot" as seen on a photograph taken by NASA’s Voyager mission.

The mission experiments included experiments in physical science, biology, and human physiology as well as radiation research and technology demonstrations. Educational outreach included educational videos as part of the "flying classroom" and set of experiments performed in microgravity.[10][11]

Expedition 56/57[edit]

Gerst has launched for his second tour to the ISS on Soyuz MS-09 on 6 June 2018, as part of Expedition 56/57. He will be the commander of the ISS for Expedition 57.[12][13] He will bring a robot assistant called "CIMON".[14] He will be the second European Space Agency astronaut to command the station, after Frank de Winne commanded Expedition 21. In May 2017, his mission name and logo were announced, called "Horizons".[8]

In popular culture[edit]

Some of Gerst's background and appearance is incorporated into the character of Alex Vogel, a German astronaut and part of the crew of the Hermes vessel in the 2015 science-fiction film The Martian.[15]

Personal Life[edit]

In his spare time, he enjoys mountaineering, diving, climbing and skydiving.

Gerst is also a licensed radio amateur (KF5ONO), and has participated in the past in several ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) educational contacts.[16]


  1. ^ a b c "Alexander Gerst". European Space Agency. 
  2. ^ Gerst, Alexander; Savage, Martha K. (26 Nov 2004). "Seismic Anisotropy Beneath Ruapehu Volcano: A Possible Eruption Forecasting Tool". Science. 306 (5701): 1543–1547. doi:10.1126/science.1103445. 
  3. ^ "List of all prize recipients of the Bernd Rendel Prize" (PDF). DFG. Retrieved June 6, 2018. 
  4. ^ Johnson, Jeffrey B.; Lees, Jonathan M.; Gerst, Alexander; Sahagian, Dork; Varley, Nick (20 November 2008). "Long-period earthquakes and co-eruptive dome inflation seen with particle image velocimetry". Nature. 456: 377–381. doi:10.1038/nature07429. Retrieved June 6, 2018. 
  5. ^ "ESA prepares for the next generation of human spaceflight and exploration by recruiting a new class of European astronauts". European Space Agency. May 20, 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  6. ^ Clark, Stephen. "Mission Status Center". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "Expedition 41 Lands Safely in Kazakhstan". NASA. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Alexander Gerst". ESA. 9 February 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018. 
  9. ^ "Introducing Blue Dot". ESA. November 14, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2018. 
  10. ^ "Pale Blue Dot:Lessons from space". ESA. Retrieved June 6, 2018. 
  11. ^ "Pale Blue Dot:Flying classroom". ESA. Retrieved June 6, 2018. 
  12. ^ "Alexander Gerst wird erster deutscher Kommandant im All" (in German). faz. 2016-05-18. Retrieved 2016-05-18. 
  13. ^ Clark, Stephen. "First German commander among astronauts named for station flights". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  14. ^ "IBM is launching a floating, talking robotic head into space that will work with astronauts". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-02-28. 
  15. ^ Schepers, Andreas (5 August 2015). "The Martian (Film) – augenzwinkernde Hommage an ESA-Astronaut Alexander Gerst" [The Martian (film) - winking tribute to ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst] (blog). (in German). Retrieved 8 July 2017. 
  16. ^ "International Space Station Briefly "Ham-less" After Crew Members Return to Earth". American Radio Relay League. 

External links[edit]