ESA Explores

Meet the space makers as we journey across Europe and into the cosmos to build a future beyond Earth alone. From astronauts to space doctors, engineers and mission controllers, ESA Explores goes behind the scenes of Europe’s greatest adventure yet.

09/06/2021 11:30 PM
ESA Explores: 100 days to launch with astronaut Matthias Maurer

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer will soon be launched to the International Space Station for a six-month stay in orbit. In this podcast, he talks about his training, the differences he's found between the Russian and American spacesuits, the role of the new European Robotic Arm (ERA), whether he's packed, science and what he's most looking forward to during his Cosmic Kiss mission.

Note: this episode was recorded just prior to the launch of Russia's new MLM module, which travelled to the Station on 21 July with ERA attached to its back. Matthias is scheduled to launch as a member of Crew-3 in a SpaceX Crew Dragon no earlier than 31 October 2021. 

07/18/2021 02:00 PM
ESA Explores: ERA for astronauts

ESA astronaut André Kuipers first encountered the European Robotic Arm (ERA) on paper, when it was intended for a proposed spaceplane called Hermes. Many iterations later, this European-built robot will soon be launched to the International Space Station – its new home in orbit. In this episode André shares how he trained with ERA underwater in Moscow, Russia and talks us through its features from an astronaut's perspective. The launch will be streamed live on ESA Web TV: 

07/04/2021 02:00 PM
ESA Explores: a new arm for space

The European Robotic Arm (ERA) is set for launch to the International Space Station in July 2021, where it will provide access to the exterior of the Russian segment and support future space walks. Ahead of its launch, we caught up with ESA ERA project manager Philippe Schoonejans. Philippe shares more about this dexterous 11 m long robot, what it enables, and its journey from Europe to space in a tale of international partnership and perseverance. 

This episode is the first in a series covering the European Robotic Arm. Stay tuned for an astronaut's perspective in our next episode with ESA astronaut André Kuipers. 

For more on ESA's human and robotic exploration activities follow us on Twitter @esaspaceflight or visit

06/11/2021 09:51 AM
ESA Explores: preparing for other planets

Loredana Bessone is preparing astronauts to explore other planets through innovative training on Earth. In this episode of astronaut selection series, she shares how astronauts train in underground caves and in different geological locations to develop their skills for the International Space Station and beyond, and how she came to train space explorers. 

ESA is currently accepting applications for the first astronaut selection in 11 years. But hurry! Applications close 18 June 2021. Visit for more information and to apply. 

06/03/2021 04:36 AM
ESA Explores: innovation for exploration

A team of students and young professionals from across Europe are exploring innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges we'll face as we go forward to the Moon and beyond. In this episode we speak with Science Officer for ESA Aidan Cowley about an initiative called Spaceship EAC, building Moon bases with regolith, and his advice for the next generation. 

This episode is part of our space careers series developed for ESA's 2021 astronaut selection. Due to Lithuania's new status as an ESA Associate Member, the deadline for astronaut applications has been extended to 18 June 2021. Read more about the selection process and find #YourWayToSpace at

05/26/2021 02:38 AM
Time and Space: forward to the Moon

In the final episode of our Time and Space series, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker talks us through Europe's next steps into space. We hear about ESA's three exploration destinations: the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars and get a feel for what it might be like to travel to the Gateway – a planned space station around the Moon. 


05/13/2021 12:00 AM
ESA Explores: training for space and ground

As a member of the instructor training team for ESA's European Astronaut Centre, Misbahur Rehman-Saad puts astronauts and flight control teams through their paces. In this episode, he talks more about the role of flight directors and ground support teams that keep the International Space Station running smoothly, as well as training astronauts from ESA and its partner agencies on the European Columbus laboratory's systems and hardware. 

Misbah knows firsthand, that perseverance pays off. Tune in to his story, as we look ahead to the selection of new ESA astronauts in 2021. 

Note: the deadline to apply to ESA's astronaut selection is 28 May 2021. If you're even considering applying, don't delay. Visit for more information. 

05/06/2021 01:10 AM
ESA Explores: the space doctor is in

In episode 6 of our astronaut selection series, ESA Senior Flight Surgeon Sergi Vaquer Araujo talks us through his role in taking care of ESA astronauts before, during and after spaceflight.

Sergi is a medical doctor and part of ESA's space medicine team. He shares how he came to be involved with ESA through the Fly Your Thesis! programme that offers master and PhD students the opportunity to fly their scientific experiment or technological research in microgravity conditions on a parabolic flight. 

You can hear more from Sergi in the Spanish language session of ESA's astronaut selection media briefings. Visit to watch the replay and find everything you need to know about ESA's 2021 astronaut selection – but hurry! Applications close 28 May 2021. 

04/29/2021 03:18 AM
ESA Explores: the voice of Earth in orbit

In this episode we explore another fascinating space career. Andrea Boyd coordinates ESA's European Communicator and Medical Operations (Eurocom) team. Based at ESA's European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, Eurocoms are the voice of Europe in space – providing a vital link between experts on Earth and astronauts in orbit. Think "Houston we have a problem" except, in this case, the call sign is Munich. 

In her role, Andrea is is regular contact with astronauts from all International Space Station partners. She also works closely with a wide range of scientists, engineers, flight controllers, medical experts and others on the ground to ensure everything runs smoothly in orbit. Tune in to hear more about her pathway to space and other opportunities available at ESA. 

This episode is part of our astronaut selection series. Visit to find out more and apply before 28 May 2021. 

04/22/2021 07:33 AM
ESA Explores: maximising crew time in space

In episode four of our astronaut selection series, we catch up with utilisation planning team lead at ESA Kirsten MacDonell. From the Canadian Air Force to the European Space Agency, Kirsten has had a fascinating journey and she's far from finished. We asked her what it takes to prepare experiments for Station and ensure smooth in-space operation. Tune in to find out more about how she works with astronauts, scientists and her team in this pivotal space role. 

ESA is currently recruiting new astronauts. For more information on how to apply and to see other roles at ESA visit 

04/19/2021 02:34 PM
ESA Explores: the Space Station and Mars

In this special bonus series, we are talking science on the International Space Station (ISS). This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first European astronaut mission to the ISS and over two decades of science experiments on the orbital outpost. 

We want to know more about how science got started, what it takes to get an experiment up to the ISS, and what’s in store for the future.

This is the third episode of our three-part conversation with guests, Andreas Schoen, Kirsten MacDonell and Nicole Buckley, who all work for ESA’s Research and Payloads Group. In the episode we talk about the future of the ISS. Do we need the ISS to get to Mars?


04/19/2021 02:30 PM
ESA Explores: getting an experiment to orbit

In this special bonus series, we are talking science on the International Space Station (ISS). This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first European astronaut mission to the ISS and more than two decades of science on the orbital outpost. 

We want to know more about how science got started, what it takes to get an experiment up to the ISS, and what’s in store for the future.

This is the second episode of our three-part conversation with guests, Andreas Schoen, Kirsten MacDonell and Nicole Buckley, who all work for ESA’s Research and Payloads Group. In the episode we talk about present day science on the ISS. What does it take to get your experiment in orbit?

04/19/2021 02:26 PM
ESA Explores: the early days of Space Station science

In this special bonus series, we are talking science on the International Space Station (ISS). This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first mission of a European astronaut to the ISS, where we astronauts have now been conducting science for researchers on Earth for over two decades. 

We want to know more about how science got started, what it takes to get an experiment up to the ISS, and what’s in store for the future.

This is the first episode of our three-part conversation with guests, Andreas Schoen, Kirsten MacDonell and Nicole Buckley, who all work for ESA’s Research and Payloads Group. In the episode we talk about the history of the International Space Station. How did science on the Space Station get started?


04/14/2021 11:36 AM
ESA Explores: research in space

ESA research and payloads programme coordinator coordinator Jennifer Ngo-Anh shares how she found her way to space as we delve into human research on the International Space Station and the challenges facing our astronauts on long-duration missions. 

This is episode three in our astronaut selection series in which we explore what it takes to be an ESA astronaut as well as some of the other roles available at ESA. ESA is accepting applications for its 2021-22 astronaut selection from 31 March to 28 May 2021. Find out more and make #YourWayToSpace at 

Thank you to Stephen Ennis for editing this episode. 

04/07/2021 10:30 AM
ESA Explores: becoming an astronaut

As the European Space Agency (ESA) recruits its first astronauts in over 10 years, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano shares his journey to spaceflight and some of the qualities he's observed in his fellow space explorers. 

Luca has now flown two six-month missions to the International Space Station, but did he always want to be an astronaut? What do astronauts do when they're not in space? And what advice would Luca give to astronaut hopefuls? This second episode in our space careers series covers all this and more. ESA's accepting applications for the role of Astronaut and Astronaut (with a physical disability) until 28 May 2021. Visit for how to apply. 


03/30/2021 02:46 PM
ESA Explores: space careers

To mark the opening of the European Space Agency's first astronaut selection in over a decade, we embark on a journey into the wonderful world of space careers. In this initial episode, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker introduces the ESA astronaut selection and the qualities ESA is looking for in its new recruits.

Host Ally Koehler asks about the newly introduced 'Parastronaut Fly!' feasibility project in which ESA is opening its application process to qualified candidates living with a physical disability, and David reveals whether or not he has astronaut aspirations. 

For more on ESA's astronaut selection visit and stay tuned for future episodes of this special season. All applications must be submitted via ESA's careers website by the time applications close on 28 May 2021. 

Audio editing by Stephen Ennis. 

03/16/2021 04:00 AM
Time and Space: launching Columbus to orbit

The addition of ESA's Columbus laboratory, and the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) programme, changed the shape of European participation on the International Space Station. But its launch came at a challenging time for human spaceflight.

In this episode ESA astronaut Frank De Winne and former ESA International Space Station programme manager Bernardo Patti talk about Columbus' launch on Space Shuttle Atlantis, the tragedy that preceded it, and what the science lab has enabled for Europeans in space to this day. 

On 31 March 2021, ESA is opening applications for its first astronaut recruitment round in more than a decade. Visit to find out more and #MakeYourWayToSpace

02/02/2021 10:00 PM
Time and Space: entering the ISS era

It's not just Europeans who have flown into orbit, Europe has also produced some impressive pieces of space-worthy kit. In this episode, hosts Ally Koehler and Stephen Ennis take a look at some of the post-SpaceLab ESA projects that never quite made it, before entering the International Space Station era with guests Philippe Berthe, Frank De Winne, and Alan Thirkettle.  

Philippe is ESA Project Coordination Manager for the European Service Modules (ESM) that will power NASA's Orion spacecraft that will fly around – and to – the Moon. Frank was the first European commander of the International Space Station. He currently wears many hats, including ESA International Space Station Programme Manager. Alan is an engineering expert and was ESA's first ISS Programme Manager. 

Please forgive audio quality in some parts of this episode. All content was recorded remotely due to COVID-19 regulations. 

12/02/2020 07:09 AM
ESA Explores: agency heads look forward to the Moon

ESA Director General Jan Wörner and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sit down with hosts Ally Koehler and Stephen Ennis to talk about collaboration and the future of space exploration – including a new space station around the Moon. This episode was recorded just ahead of the 20 year anniversary of humans living and working on the International Space Station on 2 November 2020. 

Please note, there are some issues with audio quality due to the nature of recording remotely during a pandemic. We hope these don't detract from your listening experience. Enjoy!

11/24/2020 10:00 PM
Time and space: ESA's first astronaut

In this episode of our ESA Explores Time and Space series we chat with the first ESA astronaut to fly to space, physicist Ulf Merbold.

Ulf flew on the 9th flight of NASA's Space Shuttle programme and the first flight of European-built Spacelab in 1983. As the first west German to fly to space, he talks us through his experiences – including his relationship with the late Sigmund Jähn, what life was like as first non-US citizen on a NASA spacecraft and how the astronauts and cosmonauts he worked with became like family through the years. 

Additional content:

Find out more about Ulf here:

Watch the NASA/ESA Spacelab documentary here:

NASA Public Affairs Officer Lori Meggs talks about the 30th anniversary of the Spacelab programme with former Marshall Space Flight Center Deputy Director Teresa Vanhooser here: 


10/21/2020 05:56 AM
Time and space: building a Spacelab

One of the first engineers to work on Spacelab Alan Thirkettle talks hosts Ally and Stephen through the unexpected challenges and memorable moments of building a science laboratory for space.

This unique European-built research facility flew inside NASA's Space Shuttle. It enabled the first flight of a non-American astronaut on a NASA spacecraft in 1983. It also paved the way for ESA's current laboratory on the International Space Station and the future of research in space. 

Related watching:

Spacelab - a new direction

09/16/2020 04:41 AM
Time and Space: the first Europeans in orbit

In episode one of ESA Explores' Time and Space series, we explore the early days of Soviet spaceflight in conversation with Romania's first cosmonaut Dorin Prunariu. Dorin was one of 11 Europeans to fly under Russia's Interkosmos programme. In 1978, this programme saw the first European - Czech cosmonaut Vladimir Remek - become the first non-Russian or American to fly to space. 

Interview with Dorin starts at 05:17. 

08/13/2020 11:30 PM
AstroChat - training for the Space Station

ESA astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Matthias Maurer take the time to chat while training for upcoming missions to the International Space Station missions at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, USA. 

This audio was originally a four-part video series filmed in June 2020. You can watch the full series on ESA's YouTube channel. 

07/20/2020 06:59 AM
ESA Explores – ESA missions return to science

After a brief shutdown of science instruments and a period in ‘safe standby’, ESA’s planetary missions are getting back to what they do best – gathering science data from around the Solar System.


Paolo Ferri, Head of Mission Operations at ESA’s mission control centre in Germany, and Markus Kissler-Patig, Head of Science and Operations at the Agency’s ESAC Astronomy Centre in Spain discuss the extraordinary and challenging times facing teams on the ground, the return to science for four key missions, and what it's like to make key decisions about the safety of their workforce and Europe’s fleet of space explorers in light of a global pandemic.


This podcast episode was originally released in April 2020. 

03/18/2020 10:27 AM
Beyond Series – Luca reflects on a mission E10

Just a short time after returning from 201 days in orbit on the International Space Station, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano talks to Ally Koehler about his Beyond mission and life back on Earth. 

02/19/2020 04:08 AM
Beyond Series – Looking beyond Beyond E09

Dr Aidan Cowley is a science advisor at ESA working with students and researchers on ideas that could shape the way we go forward to the Moon. In this episode, he discusses an initiative called Spaceship EAC, the future of space exploration and an alternative use for your kitchen microwave as we look beyond low Earth orbit. 

01/15/2020 06:00 AM
Beyond Series – Back to Earth E08

As Luca's time in space draws to a close, hosts Ally Koehler and Stephen Ennis chat to ESA flight surgeon Maybritt Kuypers about the medical challenges of returning an astronaut to Europe from the International Space Station. 

12/17/2019 05:28 AM
Beyond Series – Space celebrations E07

The festive season is in full force. Find out how astronauts celebrate special occasions on the Space Station with ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, BME/Eurocom coordinator for ESA Andrea Boyd and your hosts Ally Koehler and Stephen Ennis. 

12/10/2019 03:37 AM
Beyond Series – Italian bonus E02

ESA explores Beyond: L' addestramento degli astronauti.

Episodio in italiano: Massimiliano Signori e Flavie Rometsch ci parlano dell' addestramento degli astronauti, ed in particolare cosa imparano al Centro Astronauti Europeo (EAC) a Colonia, ed alcuni aneddotti divertenti.

Episode in Italian: Massimiliano Signori and Flavie Rometsch tell us about the training of astronauts, and in particular what they learn at ESA's Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, along with some funny anecdotes.

11/25/2019 09:44 AM
Beyond Series – Fit for space E06

Exercise in space is about more than just looking good – it's essential for astronaut health. In this episode Ally Koehler and Stephen Ennis chat to ESA exercise team lead Nora Peterson and ESA biomedical engineer Beate Fischer about how astronauts like Luca stay fit and healthy in space. 

11/11/2019 02:38 AM
Beyond Series – Luca spacewalk special E05.1

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is preparing for a series of spacewalks to service the dark-matter-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer AMS-02. In this bonus episode he speaks about his upcoming spacewalk, its tasks and its challenges directly from the International Space Station. 

10/15/2019 03:51 AM
Beyond Series – Spotlight on spacewalking E05

October 2019 is a busy month for spacewalking, and November will be no different. In this episode Ally and Stephen look at what it takes to prepare for and perform a spacewalk or EVA with head of ESA's EVA and Parabolic Flight Training Unit Hervé Stevenin. 

10/15/2019 03:30 AM
Beyond Series – Italian bonus E01

In questo primo episodio, Antonio Fortunato e Fabio Zecca ci parlano della Stazione Spaziale Internazionale e della seconda missione di Luca Parmitano chiamata Beyond.

09/19/2019 06:09 AM
Beyond Series – Trailer in italiano

ESA Explores èil podcast ufficiale dell'Agenzia Spaziale Europea dedicato alla missione Beyond dell'astronauta Luca Parmitano sulla Stazione Spaziale Internazionale. Restate sintonizzati per ascoltare una serie di episodi bonus in italiano con esperti ESA.

Trailer for ESA Explores bonus episodes in Italian – coming soon. 

09/16/2019 09:31 AM
Beyond Series – Space Station sounds E04

Hosts Ally Koehler and Stephen Ennis listen to and discuss some of the sounds that characterise life on the International Space Station with astronaut instructor and ESA BME/Eurocom Serena Bertone.