After almost six months on the International Space Station (ISS), German ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer is firmly back on Earth. The 52-year-old from the Saarland and his fellow crew members Kayla Barron, Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn – all NASA astronauts – splashed down off the coast of Florida at 00:44 local time (06:44 CEST) on 6 May 2022 in the Crew Dragon capsule Endurance. Maurer and his NASA colleagues had left the ISS at 07:20 CEST on 5 May and reached Earth after a 23½-hour flight.

“I am delighted that Matthias Maurer has arrived back on Earth safe and sound and congratulate him on his first successful ISS mission,” says Anna Christmann, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy. “Within ESA Germany is the main partner for the ISS and research in zero gravity on the ISS.”

Matthias Maurer is expected back in Germany shortly before 22:30 on 6 May: he will be welcomed by members of staff of ESA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) at the :envihab medical research facility at the DLR in Cologne, where he will spend the next 14 days under constant monitoring.

Matthias Maurer’s Cosmic Kiss mission

Maurer set off for the ISS on 11 November 2021, the first German to travel on board a Dragon space capsule of the US aerospace company SpaceX. His Cosmic Kiss mission began when he arrived on the space station on 12 November. The German astronaut spent a total of 175 days on the ISS, carrying out over 100 experiments – travelling at 28,000 km/h, 400 km above the Earth, in zero gravity. 34 of the experiments were designed in Germany. ESA’s Columbus Control Centre, located at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen, organised the planning of the experiments and their implementation on the European Columbus module on the ISS.

One focus of the Cosmic Kiss mission was to get children and young people excited about aerospace and especially STEM subjects. Matthias Maurer is an ambassador for Stiftung KinderHerz, a foundation helping children with heart diseases, and supported many school campaigns and activities from the ISS.

The fourth German to spend time on the ISS, Matthias Maurer was a member of long-term crews 66 and 67. Shortly after arriving on the space station, he experienced the partial evacuation of the ISS on 15 November 2021 to avoid a potential collision with parts of a defunct satellite. In the past six months, the ISS has also twice been “home” for several days to space tourists: two Japanese men visited it for ten days in December, and the private crew from the US company Axiom Space followed in April, spending a fortnight on board.

On 23 March, materials scientist Matthias Maurer spent just short of seven hours working outside the space station. He and NASA astronaut Raja Chari installed new hoses in a cooling system, replaced an external camera and installed power and data cables on Europe’s Bartolomeo science platform.

On 28 April, Matthias Maurer welcomed his colleague Samantha Cristoforetti to the ISS. The Italian, on her second Minerva mission, was replacing him as an ESA astronaut on board.

Matthias Maurer was the 600th person in space and spent a total of roughly 4,100 hours on the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth more than 2,700 times and seeing the sun rise and set almost 2,800 times.