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On December 21st of 2018 I got the call from the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) that I got selected for the Class of 2019 of Analog Astronauts. I was – and still am – ecstatic and happy about this early X-Mas present. After weeks of an intense and nerve wrecking but also very fun and inspiring selection process I was overjoyed to have made it. Since that day I was counting the weeks and days until I could go to Innsbruck again. Finally, on the 25th of April it was time for training block I. Seeing the familiar faces from the selection rounds, my teammates and the staff of OeWF again made for a very warm reunion. It felt like family again in no time.
From the first evening on Thursday on we jumped right in with the first lectures. Over the course of three very long and intense training days we learned about a plethora of topics ranging from media training, radio language, space suit systems, mission architecture, Mars and Moon planetology, Wi-Fi setup, space law and much more. Beside the many interesting fields of study, we´ll have to master over the next months there was also physical exercise in the form of a morning run as well as physical test at a local gym. We went there with our exercise specialist Guillermo Rojo, a 400m Gold-Medalist from Spain, who not only took our measure to crank out our own personalized training plans, he also talked to us about nutrition, postural hygiene and many other fitness related topics relevant to our training.
What impressed me the most was the level of professionalism everything emanated. The people teaching us – for example the impressively talented Florian Voggeneder, who introduced us to field photography – are all experts in their field. That they took the time to teach us was very appreciated and inspiring. The same goes for all the volunteers of the OeWF who work “behind the scenes” as Analog Astronaut Support, as IT-specialists, as technicians and so on and without whom the whole thing would not be possible.
That leads me to my main feelings about all of this. It is such a joy to be part of this very international and interdisciplinary team that has a common understanding of its goal – to do analog research and to bring everything together to get the most science out of every mission. The professionalism and passion of everyone involved is great to experience. Everyone brings their unique set of skills, their personality and their experiences which makes for a lot of fun at breaks, fruitful discussions, interesting ideas and overall a great spirit throughout the time spent together.
When I went home on Sunday evening I was filled with facts, ideas, tons of “I´ll HAVE to look that up because it´s so interesting” and also thankfulness again for being able to be part of this. I was also knackered to be honest and looking forward to a whole night of sleep but looking forward very much to the next training block as well as everything else that the future holds for us as the Class of 2019.
Author: Anika Mehlis, Analog Astronaut Candidate, Class of 2019
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- 26.09.2019 - 27.09.2019: Deutsche Astrobiologie Gesellschaft - 4th annual workshop
- 04.11.2019 - 06.11.2019: European Mars Conference
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