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#SpaceWatchGL Interviews: Dr. Matthias Maurer of European Space Agency

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By Valerie Vlasenko

Do you wish to be an astronaut? Grasp these social abilities first

Robust technical abilities and excellent bodily talents are simply a number of the qualities house companies take a look at throughout the astronaut choice course of. However is that every one? Let’s agree that if it was solely about bodily efficiency, we’d in all probability resort to robots and AI. But, house companies spend hundreds of thousands on astronaut coaching packages, ensuring they’re sending the perfect candidates for the job. SpaceWatch.Globals Valerie Vlasenko requested ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer what are crucial abilities that astronauts must possess.

ESA Astronaut Dr. Matthias Maurer; Credit: Valerie Vlasenko

Dr. Matthias Maurer is a European House Company astronaut and supplies scientist. Initially from Germany, he studied in Spain, France, and the UK and speaks a number of European languages comparable to English and Russian. He’s presently learning Mandarine and one a couple of European astronauts trained together with the Chinese

I used to be at all times fascinated by house and dreamt of turning into a pilot once I was a child. After I noticed that ESA is on the lookout for new astronauts I believed I ought to give it a attempt.

Maurer’s journey began in 2008 when along with the opposite 9 candidates he made it to the ultimate spherical of ESA astronaut choice. After narrowly lacking out on astronaut candidacy at that stage, he labored for ESA in quite a lot of roles together with crew help and Eurocom (European spacecraft communicator) earlier than formally becoming a member of the ESA astronaut corps. In 2018 Maurer accomplished fundamental astronaut coaching and have become totally licensed to go to house.

He was chosen in 2015 to participate in house coaching and is scheduled to fly in 2022.

How does it really feel to be set to fly however the flight is ready 2 years from now?

As an astronaut, you’ve obtained to be taught endurance,” smiles Maurer.

Certainly, once we consider astronauts, we regularly acknowledge their exhausting abilities – drugs, engineering, science, and many others. We additionally take a look at their bodily circumstances – endurance, stress resistance, resilience. 

But typically, it’s the mushy abilities that make astronauts stand out from the gang. In spite of everything, you desire a reliable, secure and understanding crew member when you find yourself totally disconnected from life on Earth. For that, future astronauts will naturally want such abilities as adaptability, psychological energy and even – a very good humorousness. 

“If there may be one mushy talent we have to grasp, it’s communication. Social abilities are of utmost significance for a job that requires working with groups of astronauts from different nations and cultures in an remoted setting for a sure time frame. Once you fly to the Worldwide House Station, you develop into part of a global group. There could also be individuals from Russia, the US, Japan, Canada, Germany, Italy, and many others. You might want to be a very good group participant, fly up pretty much as good colleagues and are available again pretty much as good pals” says Maurer.

Candidates with a scarcity of social abilities get filtered early on throughout the choice course of. People who undergo obtain further coaching in social abilities often known as “human conduct efficiency coaching”. That is the place future astronauts be taught extra about group dynamics and work with suggestions from each trainers and different group members. 

You get extra conscious of your personal conduct and purpose to enhance it down the road. Typically, we detect flaws in different individuals’s conduct, however not in our personal. These coaching classes gave me a number of suggestions on what I personally might do higher with a purpose to make the group extra profitable. That was extremely helpful.

Maurer’s human conduct efficiency coaching happened in Sardinia, contained in the community of caves. The group is introduced there for every week to simulate the variety of actions they might in any other case carry out on the ISS. For instance, the group is transferring round utilizing tethers – similar to astronauts do throughout a spacewalk.

 ESA’s Caves – Astronaut Coaching Program

In some unspecified time in the future you end up hanging above the void. That’s if you understand how a lot your life depends upon your crew, and it actually doesn’t matter which nation or tradition they’re coming from. You be taught to belief individuals unconditionally and develop into reliable a colleague for them.”  

Every particular person process is designed in order that the individual can’t full it with out asking for assist. Thus, the individuals don’t solely obtain but in addition give assist. This manner they be taught when is the perfect time to help and when to not. 

Throughout this coaching, you be taught first hand what management and followership are all about. You be taught when it’s higher to guide and when it’s higher to observe. As a result of generally you might be contributing to the widespread purpose by being a follower and even – not doing something.

Residing and dealing successfully in an in depth setting put astronauts beneath huge stress. Do fights and misunderstandings occur on the ISS? They definitely do, nonetheless human conduct efficiency coaching teaches astronauts to deal with it professionally. 

It actually comes all the way down to efficient communication,” Maurer concludes.

So if you begin planning in your journey in direction of turning into an astronaut, or knowledgeable in any discipline, for that matter – don’t go away your social skillset untrained. They could simply be your aggressive benefit, the “ingredient” that may set you other than the remainder.

SpaceWatch.International thanks Dr. Matthias Maurer of ESA for the interview.

Valerie Vlasenko is SpaceWatch.International Contributor, an entrepreneur tackling the dilemma of popularising house. Founding father of VSpace Media and Curator of Arctic15 House convention, Valerie has a wealthy expertise as an entrepreneur, a journalist, and an area lawyer.

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