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Astronaut Alex Gerst announces 'Horizons' space mission

May 29, 2017

German astronaut Alexander Gerst has revealed that his new mission to the International Space Station will be called "Horizons." The 41-year-old will be the station's first German commander on his 2018 trip.

Deutschland | Astronaut Alexander Gerst päsentiert das Logo seiner nächsten ISS-Mission
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/O. Berg

Alexander Gerst said the research his team planned to carry out aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on their upcoming mission would "broaden horizons" - hence the mission's name.

"And that's not only in a geographical sense, but also in terms of science. We hope to expand our scientific horizons," he told journalists at Cologne's European Astronaut Center on Monday.

The Horizons mission is scheduled to take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan in April, 2018.

Gerst first traveled to the ISS in 2014 as part of the Blue Dot mission. This time the 41-year-old will serve as commander aboard the station - becoming the first German to take up the responsibility.

The Horizons mission is expected to last around six months. During that time, the astronauts will oversee research into a range of topics, including cancer, the immune system, robotics and quantum physics. Gerst, a geophysicist, said he had spent the past year training intensively for the new flight and was looking forward to conducting dozens of experiments.

"There are no other places in the world where we can carry out these types of experiments," he said. The ISS is "not only a unique laboratory for…experiments that can improve life on earth, but it also…shows us how we could live in space."

At Monday's press conference, Gerst also unveiled the new logo for the Horizons mission, designed by students from Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.

nm/msh (AFP, dpa)