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Many young space enthusiasts followed the call of the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) to apply for the analog astronaut class 2019. In order to become an analog astronaut of the OeWF the candidates have to face a strict and competitive selection process. Daniel Mattes applied for the analog astronaut training and has faced the strict, competitive selection process. Below he reports about his personal experience, which he made during the selection process:
Analog astronaut selection – a case report by Daniel Mattes
Innsbruck, Dec. 16th, 2018
So here I am, in Innsbruck. A lovely city in the Austrian Alps. It is 5:50 am and I am standing outside an inconspicuous building in sub-zero degree conditions together with 17 other people from all over Europe waiting to start our morning run. How did I end up here?
It all started back in September when I read that the Austrian Space Forum is looking for new analog astronaut candidates. My friend texted me the exact same news article just minutes afterwards stating: „They are looking for you!“ I agreed. I would take a shot and send in my application. A couple of letters and a – rather amateurishly produced – video in which I introduced myself and my desire to be part of this exciting adventure later I was invited to the B-selection process in Innsbruck at the end of October. I was grateful for the opportunity and excited to meet the staff of the Austrian Space Forum and all the other candidates, coming from Spain, Sweden, Italy, Iceland, Germany… Point anywhere on a European map, you would almost always finding a corresponding candidate coming from that country!
The excitement only kept building and reached its peak when meeting everybody in person on November 30th. It was great meeting this exceptionally motivated group, one person nicer and more likeable than the other. How could you hold any grudge against anyone of them if they take away „your spot“ as an analog astronaut? Impossible.
Foto: Daniel Mattes during the Administrative Interview conducted by Admin Director Gernot Groemer, Analog Astronaut Inigo Munoz and board member Olivia Haider. Credit P. Santek
Then the tests started, and boy did they test you: Everything started with a general knowledge test (who knew the 100-year war actually lasted for 116 years?) and continued with a short medical examination and interview, a psychological interview, a concise fitness test and – probably my favorite part – controlling a small robot simulating a Mars rover!
Foto: Starting the Analog Astronaut selection with a knowledge test. Credit: C. Stix
Foto: Separating rice with chopsticks as part of the tactility test. Credit: P. Santek
And through all of this time you could not stop talking to all of these extraordinary and inspiring people around you and making new friends along the way.
Foto: Watching a MARS2013 documentary together with analog astronaut candidates and the OeWF testing team. Credit: P. Santek
Then the hopeful waiting. Will I make it to the next round? Will I get the chance to meet everybody again in two weeks? On a Wednesday the confirmation: yes! Back to Innsbruck again!
So now we are here, outside in the cold, waiting for our morning run. The first of many other tasks to come during the next 3 days at the Austrian Space Forum. And I am even more excited than before – if that’s possible. Will I make it? Will I pass? In any case, I will go home afterwards happier and more enlightened than ever.
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