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From Space to KTH: Marcus Wandt shares his insights

Raquel Frescia -

On February 19, Marcus Wandt, the third Swede in space, visited KTH to share his insights and experiences from his 22-day space mission, Axiom Mission 3, more commonly called Muninn.

ESA astronaut Marcus Wandt made his return to Earth on February 9, following his participation as Mission Specialist in the Muninn mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) along with his Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) crewmates, Mission Specialist Alper Gezeravcı, Commander Michael López-Alegría and Pilot Walter Villadei from Axiom Space. The conclusion of this 20-day space venture was marked by the autonomous undocking of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on February 7, launched by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on January 18, to deploy its parachutes for water landing off the coast of Florida 47 hours later. Within 24 hours, Marcus was back on terrestrial soil, soon arriving in Cologne, Germany, where he began a series of critical post-mission activities.

Marcus’s post-mission agenda assessed and mitigated the effects of prolonged exposure to microgravity in his body. This included detailed medical checks focusing on muscle mass, bone density, and cardiovascular health, which are known to be impacted by the microgravity environment of space. Following these initial assessments, Marcus engaged in scientific evaluations and a structured readaptation program at the ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC) and the :envihab facility of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). This program was designed to facilitate astronauts’ adjustment to Earth’s gravity, focusing on enhancing their balance, strength, and coordination.

The culmination of Marcus’s return activities was highlighted by his visit to Sweden, where he was warmly welcomed. On February 19, joined by Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang, he lectured at KTH, sharing insights and experiences from his space mission to a full lecture hall.

Axiom Mission 3, Muninn

The mission’s official name is Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3), but its patch reads Muninn. Muninn takes its name from one of the two raven accomplices of Odin in Norse Mythology. The second raven is Huginn, who shares the name with the Space Station mission of Andreas Mogensen. And this is only one of many fun facts about Muninn.

The mission’s financial backdrop was particularly notable, with Sweden’s investment for Marcus’s “ticket” costing 400-450 million kronor. This funding, a collaboration between the government, the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), companies, and the Swedish Armed Forces, underscores Sweden’s broad support for space projects. Anna Rathsman, general director of The Swedish National Space Agency, commented on the sum—“It sounds like a lot of money, and it is a lot of money, but compared to what we get out of it, I think it is worth it.”

Marcus supported almost 20 European experiments during his mission, operating robots on Earth and supporting research projects like Orbital Architecture, led by KTH. The project explores the effects of prolonged stays in confined space environments on human physical and mental health. Researchers Michail Magkos and Mikael Forsman will analyse data from Marcus’s mission, focusing on his stress levels, cognitive performance, heart activity, and movement patterns. This data can also help us understand how architectural design can mitigate stress and enhance cognitive functions for astronauts. However, the implications extend beyond space travel, offering insights applicable to submarines, Arctic research stations and more. The research also aims to increase inclusivity in space exploration, guiding us to design more accommodating spaces and ensuring a wider range of individuals can participate in future missions.

Marcus Wandt’s background

Soon after graduating high school in 1999, Marcys took on the role of patrol leader and airborne ranger with the Swedish Army Airborne Ranger School. In 2000, Marcus enrolled at Chalmers University of Technology, earning his master’s degree in electrical engineering in 2007. Joining the Karlberg Military Academy in 2003, he graduated as an officer in 2005. From 2004 to 2006, he engaged in basic and fighter training at the Swedish Air Force Flying Training School.

Marcus attended the US Navy Test Pilot School from 2013 to 2014, graduating as an experimental test pilot at the top of his class. He later took on the roles of squadron and wing commander, flying with the Swedish Air Force Operations Commander School. Today, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Swedish Air Force.

In 2022, Marcus was selected as a member of the ESA astronaut reserve and joined the European Astronaut Corps in 2023 as an ESA project astronaut for the Muninn mission. This year, he became the fifth ESA astronaut to fly on a Dragon spacecraft and the third Swedish citizen to be launched into space through his first space mission, Muninn.

Publicerad: 2024-02-20

Ansvarig utgivare: Raquel Frescia
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