MINTWorte aus dem All – Funkkontakt mit dem Astronauten Koichi Wakata

Bild: Ein Bild der Raumstation ISS

Wer hatte als kleines Kind nicht den Traum, einmal als Astronaut:in durch den Weltraum zu schweben? Am Dienstag, den 14.02.2023, hatte das GCE (Gymnasium Christian-Ernestinum) die einmalige Möglichkeit, diesem Traum näher zu kommen und per Funk dem Astronauten Koichi Wakata, der sich momentan auf der ISS befindet, Fragen zu seiner Arbeit und seinem Alltag in der Schwerelosigkeit zu stellen.

Schon im Sommer letzten Jahres begann das Funkteam des Deutschen Amateur-Radio-Clubs e.V. (DARC) Bayreuth mit den Vorbereitungen auf den großen Tag des Funkens, zum Beispiel mit dem Bau der Antennen und der Herrichtung der benötigten technischen Gerätschaften, die alle selbst gebaut sind. Am 11. und 12. Februar haben die Funkamateure des DARC dann die Funkvorrichtungen im Schulgebäude aufgebaut und die Probeläufe für uns Schüler:innen, die die Fragen stellen sollten, durchgeführt.

Die Wochen davor fanden in der Schule als Vorbereitung auf den Funkkontakt zahlreiche Informationsveranstaltungen zum Thema Weltraum, Weltraumforschung und Weltraumtechnik statt, sodass sich interessierte Schüler:innen vertieft mit diesen umfangreichen Themen auseinandersetzen konnten. Sehr informativ war das Gespräch mit Prof. Dr. Rudolf Schilling über die wichtige Rolle kleiner Satelliten in der Raumfahrt sowie der Vortrag von Dr. Christian Brandes „Unendliche Welten - neue Einblicke ins Universum“. Am 11. Februar fand der Projekttag ISS statt, bei dem alle Klassen drei Vorträge von den Wissenschaftlern Dr. Wollenberg, Prof. Dr. Köhler und Prof. Dr. Schafföner beiwohnten. Durch die ausführliche Beschäftigung mit dem Thema Raumfahrt sind 21 Fragen entstanden, die wir GCE-Schüler:innen dem Astronauten Koichi Wakata am 14. Februar dann live stellen durften.

Am Tag des Funkkontakts gab es dann zahlreiche Informationen über Astrophysik, die die Wartezeit auf das große Ereignis sinnvoll und informativ verkürzt haben. Passend zum Thema wurde auch ein Lego-Roboter-Bauwettbewerb veranstaltet. Zudem wurden Plätzchen mit Weltraummotiven von engagierten Schüler:innen für die Empfangsfeier gebacken.

Und dann kamen diese unglaublichen zehn Minuten, in denen wir mit dem Weltall verbunden waren! Wie aufregend und intensiv dieses einmalige Erlebnis war, konnte jeder von uns miterleben!

Hier könnt ihr euch das Spektakel als Video ansehen:

Das GEC funkt zur ISS

Hier haben wir für euch auch noch einmal zum Nachlesen unsere Fragen an Koichi Wakata und seine Antworten auf Englisch notiert:

Question number one: How long does it take to prepare for a space flight? What content is part of the training and what did you enjoy the most?

Okay, once we are assigned to a space flight, we go through a training for about two years to train for a space flight. We have training on the ISS systems operations, *rauschen* space crafts, robotics and scientific experiments, and then we go to Germany, Cologne, for the Columbus training [gemeint ist die Columbus-Raumkapsel].

Question number two: How long will you be on the ISS? And will you fly to the ISS a second time?

No, I will be on the ISS for about five months, and this is my fifth space flight, and I'll be happy to come back to the ISS after this flight.

Question number three: How does a rocket launch feel and how difficult is it to move in zero gravity?

Doing a launch is always exciting, I launched on a space shuttle, and this time on the "Crew Dragon". Acceleration on the action is fantastic. Once in zero gravity, in the beginning it's awkward to move around, but soon we would get used to it and we can start moving and stopping in space very easily.

Question number four: Is the ISS decorated for birthdays or carnival?

That's a very good question. We celebrate the holidays and birthdays on the ISS with our crewmates and we have items that we use for decoration for occasions such as Christmas.

Question number five: What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get back to earth?

That's an excellent question, I'd love to eat sushi and take a long bath as we do not have fresh food up here and we cannot take showers or baths on the ISS for many months.


Question number six: How does weightlessness and the changed day-night rhythm affect the psyche and how do you deal with it personally? Have you been homesick too?

That's a great question. It is amazing, how quickly and how well the human body can adapt a new environment, however it is hard to live and work away from home for several months and we miss our family and friends.

Question number seven: Do you have free time on board and how can you use it??

That's a great question. Every day after work and on the weekends we have free time on the ISS. We make phone calls to our family and read E-mails, read books or watch recorded TV-programs and movies. I love taking pictures of the Earth from the windows of the space station.

Question number eight: What have you personally learned from this mission that you would like to pass on to everyone?

That's an excellent question. I'd like to pass onto everyone that the ISS is an excellent testbed for technologies that we need to develop for future exploration to the moon and mars. For example, we're testing a new recycling system, new toilets *rauschen* for the ISS.

Question number nine: How often can you contact friends and family and how is this technically implemented?

Great question! I talk with my friends and family on the phone and exchange E-mails with them every day, and we have two-way-radio and videoconferences with our families every weekend.

Question number ten: What do you like best about living on the ISS?

 Great question! The best part is to work with my wonderful crewmates on the ISS every day. And the view of the Earth from up here is so beautiful. You'll never be bored looking at our blue home planet.


Question number eleven: Is there privacy on the ISS, e.g. a separate little corner or something similar?

 Great question! There are the crew quarters , it is a small-size compartment of our own, and we sleep in the crew quarters every night. It is a very comfortable place where we can keep our privacy.


Question number twelve: How is the air in the ISS?

Good question! It is like on the Earth, the same pressure and the temperature. The air consists of about 80% of nitrogen and 20% of oxygen. On the ISS we recycle air by removing carbon-dioxide.


Question number thirteen: Friends and family aside, is there anything that’s only on Earth that you miss?

Yeah, that's a good question. Taking a bath and having fresh food. Those are the very things that I miss a lot. The water is a very precious resource, here on the ISS each of us can use only about three litres of water daily, including the water we drink.

Question number fourteen: With the photos from the ISS you only ever see the Earth, what does the view of the starry sky look like?

That's a great question! Stars look really beautiful from up here since there is no air outside and the stars do not twinkle here. The sky full of stars and the view of Aurora [Borealis] is simply breathtaking.

Question number fifteen: Can you hear or feel impacts from so called space debris on the ISS?

Fortunately, we have not heard or felt the impact of space debris so far. I worked outside the ISS last month and earlier this month during a space walk, and we can see small dents or damages on the external structure from debris.

Question number sixteen: How does the food taste on the ISS and which earthly food do you miss the most?

Food here tastes very good, but we have very limited opportunities to eat fresh food, so I miss things like salad, fresh fruits and of course sushi very much.

Question number seventeen: Have you already been involved in an external mission and how is contact with the “spacewalk-er” maintained?

Yes, I had an opportunity to do two space walks last month and earlier this month for a total of about fourteen hours. We have radio communication throughout the space walks.

Question number eighteen: What do you think of space tourism?

Great question! It is wonderful to have more and more people to fly into space in tourism. Space tourism will make a space flight more affordable and safer, which will eventually enable us to explore further in space frontiers safely and economically.

Question number nineteen: What happens to all the equipment after the mission?

Good question! Space crafts and space suits will be used again after maintenance. Some of the equipment such as experiments will be trashed in cargo supply vehicles and *rauschen* reentry of the cargo vehicle after undocking from the space station.

Question number twenty: What do you do during the time on the ISS and what are the biggest challenges involved?

Great question! We conduct a variety of experiments including development of new medicines using protein crystal growth, developing new materials utilising microgravity and testing new technology for future exploration on the Moon and Mars. The biggest challenge is when we encounter unexpected situations on the ISS, but we always have overcome the challenges together with the excellent mission control teams on the ground.

Question number twenty-one: What happens in case of extreme health emergencies?

Excellent question! We have capabilities of emergency medical treatment on board the ISS. We have flight surgeons on the ground on call 24/7 in case we need medical support. In a life threatening medical emergency case, we can use or space craft to return to the Earth for medical treatment.

Question number twenty-two: How did you like our questions?

Great questions! I wish I could talk with all of you in person in the future. We really enjoy training in Germany in Cologne for the Columbus-module, actually I'm calling from the Columbus-module, the European space station module, and it is wonderful to work up here.

It is wonderful to work not only with the crewmates from all over the world but with mission control teams all around the world. Munich has a control center, and Houston, Moskau, Cuba and Montreal, Canada. It is great to work with everybody around the world onboard the space station.

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