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Committee selected new trainees from a pool of around 100 applications
100 applications, 637 individual assessments, and three months later: one woman and four men from Austria, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands have been selected to strengthen the Corps of Analog Astronauts of the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF). Some of them will already be deploying to “AMADEE-15,” the Mars Mission Simulation upcoming in August which takes place on the Kaunertal Glacier in Tyrol, Austria.
The applications for the new round of selections for analog astronaut trainees came from all over the world. After a three-stage selection process, five highly qualified candidates (one woman and four men from Austria, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands) successfully made it to the last round. During this final stage these candidates were thoroughly tested by a panel jury consisting of physicians, psychologists and aerospace experts.
„We have received a great number of applications with outstanding qualifications and we are particularly pleased by the amount of international participation,“
reflected Dr. Gernot Grömer, President of the Austrian Space Forum, with a visible sense of pride and added
„this is all the more remarkable considering the high personal commitment which is required for training.“
Since February, the five selected candidates have been undergoing intense training. Once the candidates pass the final exam in mid-May, they will be accepted into the Corps of Analog Astronauts. In addition to media training, stress management, first-aid, and extensive fitness training geology, planetary science, and astrobiology are included in the curriculum. The heart of the education and training is wearing and working with the spacesuit simulator “Aouda.” The 45 kg (approx. 100 lbs) Aouda spacesuit was developed by the Austrian Space Forum to simulate manned missions to Mars and will be deployed in August as part of the Mars Mission Simulation “AMADEE-15” on the Kaunertal Glacier in Tyrol. Some of the new analog astronauts will also participate and perform field experiments for the first time in a spacesuit simulator. As part of this field exercise, they must cope with the constraints of the spacesuit: for example, the constant buzz of ventilation, excess heat build-up in the suit, a restricted field of vision, as well as a reduced sense of touch and decreased mobility. The five new analog astronauts are available for interviews upon request.
About the analog astronauts
Stefan Dobrovolny, 25, from Leoben, Austria studies medicine. In his spare time, he volunteers at the Austrian Red Cross as a senior emergency medic and at the Austrian Mountain Rescue Service. Here, he is not only responsible for medical training and medical equipment but he is also a trained deployment leader. Stefan Dobrovolny is fluent in English and has basic knowledge of Spanish and Swedish.
The candidate from Germany, Karmen Köhler, 35, studied mathematics and meteorology and completed her PhD magna cum laude. She is currently a researcher at the German weather service in Offenbach, Germany. Since 2014, she has attended a mediation course in constructive conflict management and intercultural communication. Karmen Köhler is fluent in English and has basic knowledge of French.
Kartik Kumar, 30, from the Netherlands studied aerospace technology, completed his master’s degree in the same subject cum laude and not only received the award “TU Delft Aerospace Engineering Best Graduate 2008” but is also recognized with an award from the Dutch National Aeronautical Society: “NvVL Best Graduate 2008.” He is currently working on the development of strategies for the monitoring and removal of space debris within the framework of the European project “Stardust.” Kartik Kumar is fluent in Dutch, English and Tamil and has good knowledge of Italian, Spanish, French and German.
Joao Lousada, 26, from Portugal studied aerospace engineering. He completed his master’s degree at the University of Victoria in Canada. He currently works at OHB System AG in Bremen, Germany on the Meteosat Third Generation Project of the European Space Agency (ESA). Joao Lousada is fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish and has a good knowledge of German and French.
Iñigo Muñoz Elorza, 36, from Spain studied economics in Karlsruhe, Germany and then aerospace engineering in Madrid, Spain. He worked at EUSOC in Madrid, Spain on the preparation and
implementation of real time operations for several experiments which were carried on board the Columbus Module of the International Space Station (ISS). Currently he is employed at the German Aeronautics and Space Research Center (DLR) within the framework of the European Galileo Satellite Navigation System. Iñigo Muñoz Elorza is fluent in Spanish, English, Italian and German.
About the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF)
The OeWF is an Austrian network for space flight experts and those interested in space, in cooperation with national and international research institutes, industry partners and policy frameworks. The OeWF completes research in the area of space activities, continues to develop one out of five experimental Mars spacesuits in the world and carries out professional simulations of manned missions to Mars.
This article is available in: German
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