From quantum physics to space travels

At, we have nothing against sleep but this morning, we simply couldn’t stay in bed. At already 6 am, some of us were in front of a screen, somewhere, in the middle of the University park in Aarhus. “Why’s that?”, you may wonder. Well, here are the reasons:

  1. Andreas Mogensen took off for his first spaceflight
  2. He is now on its way to what is the first space mission for a Danish citizen: iriss

Moreover, we thought: “hey! watching a space ship launch: isn’t that cool?!”. And to convince us even more, there were nice mood, coffee and bread rolls to share among other early birds. Fun, fun, fun! If you are as excited as we are, here are some interesting things you should know about Andreas and the human spaceflight he is on:

Andreas Mogensen earned a ph.D. degree in Aerospace Engineering back in 2007. He worked and trained really hard these last couple of years to reach the place where he is now, as we are writing this article. Born in 1976, Andreas was recruited by the ESA (European Space Agency) in 2009 as the first Danish astronaut. A year later and after an initial training, he became one of the few members of the European Astronaut Corps. With 4 flight assignments already given to the astronaut class selected in 2009, Andreas is currently on the fifth one where he will accomplish his 10-day mission called iriss. Since this morning 6.37am (Danish time), the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft is thus on its way to the International Space Station with Andreas Mogensen, Aidyn Aimbetov (cosmonaut) and Sergei Volkov (commander) on board.

The launch took place at the Baikonur cosmodrome in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan and the three men present in the spacecraft should arrive at the International Space Station this Friday morning. Their flight will last longer than the typical six hours for this route. Indeed, the Space Station’s orbit is higher than usual. Andreas’ 20 ESA planned experiments will help test new technologies in orbit and return scientific samples to European teams on the ground.

According to the ESA official website, Andreas “has an essential role in this spacecraft swap assisting both Soyuz commanders on each flight in his role as flight engineer, or second-in-command.” In fact, Andreas and Aidyn will return to Earth after 10 days, while Sergei Volkov will stay on the station, switching places with commander Gennady Padalka, who is already in space. Thanks to the delivery of the TMA-18M Soyuz spacecraft, the NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and the Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will be able to stay until the end of their 11-month mission on ISS since it will replace their spacecraft currently in orbit (TMA-16M) that just achieve the six-month “space warranty”.

For Andreas, “this mission is the fulfillment of a life-long dream and the culmination of many years of hard work and training”. We can only applaud his work and courage and hope it will inspire each and every one of us. Andreas, we wish you the best of luck and “go’ rejse”!


From quantum physics to space travels