L'ESA le sélectionne comme astronaute en mai 2009.
Il commence son entrainement d'astronaute la même année. Il est reçu astronaute en 2010 avec une remise de diplôme le 22 novembre 2010 à l'EAC.
Le 18 septembre 2011, il est sélectionné comme astronaute titulaire d'une mission spatiale de 6 mois à bord de l'ISS pour 2014 avec Expedition 40-41.
C'est le 2ème astronaute de la sélection 2009 de l'ESA a avoir une affectation sur une mission spatiale à bord de l'ISS (Luca Parmitano a été le premier du groupe).
Rencontré lors du Tag des Luft - und Ramfahrt au Centre Européen des Astronautes (EAC) à Cologne, il répond à Space Quotes - Souvenirs d'espace.
|(Alexander Gerst à l'ESA le 18 septembre 2011 / Crédit : Stéphane Sebile / Spacemen1969)|
Interview réalisée le 18 septembre 2011
Q : What was your most favorite memory of your astronaut training ? What was the most difficult challenge for you during this time ?
The best memories of my astronaut training are of the comradery and friendship that developed within our group of astronauts, and also with our fellow astronauts from the U.S.:, Canada, Japan and Russia.
It is also a great privilege to train with so many dedicated people that work in our training departments and in other departments of ESA and the national space agencies.
Personally, my favorite training activity is working in the space suit under water, preparing for space walks.
On the other side, one of the biggest challenges of my training was certainly to learn to speak Russian within only three months. But the beauty of knowing this fascinating language made all the efforts worth wile.
Q : What was your reaction, your feeling when you have learned you have been selected for a space mission in ISS in 2014 ?
Of course I was thrilled to learn that I have the mission to travel into space in 2014.
It is a great honour for me to get the chance to contribute to the long standing tradition of European and German space flight.
This mission will be a positive challenge not only for me but for all the dedicated people working at ESA and the national space agencies, who make spaceflight possible through their passion and fascination.
I am looking forward to fly to space on the shoulders of this gigantic team, to the boundaries of our capabilities and knowledge, in order to stick my head out a little more and to put some more light into the darkness.
And just as much I am looking forward to return to Earth six months later with a wide variety of important scientific knowledge and a new perspective on our planet, which I will then gladly share with you.