Flights of imagination – wanderer meets race-car driver

In Saarland, people mostly demeanour adult to a sky. The reason is a troops jets that sight their moody maneuvers over a tiny German state on a extent with France. Matthias Maurer and Timo Bernhard grew adult with this internal tradition of gazing into a sky. Fascinated, always, by record and speed. One is an astronaut, a other a race-car driver. Their careers are both tangible by perseverance, harsh personal standards, earthy fitness, and operative in general teams of roughly a same size. They both know a conditions of carrying to rest on a correctness of technical preparations; both have to withstand high g-forces. In both professions, radio hit to a engineers is a salvation to survival. 

The astronaut

Zero to 28,000 kmh in 10 minutes. This is a acceleration that ESA wanderer Maurer is looking brazen to. He will knowledge it in a Crew Dragon plug from SpaceX – on a tip of a Falcon 9 rocket. Around him will be hundreds of tons of rarely bomb fuel. The start, slated for autumn 2021, is a unhealthy partial of a mission. Roughly twenty-four hours later, he will start his duties on a International Space Station (ISS). Maurer will a spend a lion’s share of his days working. 

Space lab: At a ESA site in Cologne, Matthias Maurer (right) shows Timo Bernhard a accurate reproduction of a Columbus procedure of a ISS.

Each wanderer conducts between 100 and 150 experiments during their roughly six-month stay on a ISS. In a tightest of spaces. Maurer binds a doctorate in materials science. His favorite activity is formulating new steel alloys in weightlessness, for instance to make motors or solar cells some-more efficient. 

Subject of study

And he himself is also a theme of study. At a start of his mission, Maurer will be fifty-one years old. In a half year during a space station, his skeleton will age thirty times faster than on earth. “We humans are not built for weightlessness,” he says. “The musculature and a defence complement deteriorate, and we will rise eye problems.” The ocular nerves can be compromised. To keep fit, dual hours of practice are on a bulletin any day. The design is to find out how people can stay healthy in space – how they can live on a Moon and, from there, transport onwards to Mars. 

Maurer practical to be an wanderer with a European Space Agency (ESA) in 2008. One of 8,500 candidates. “I was a scientist and we saw a event to work with a best record as partial of an general group – and we was also captivated by a tour of it.” He would have to wait. He was usually certified to a European Astronaut Corps in 2017. He has schooled how to take his possess blood representation and lift teeth; he has mastered presence training in caves and underwater. He schooled English, French, and Spanish as a student; now he’s combined Chinese and Russian for crisis-proof communication with his general colleagues.  

The race-car driver

Matthias Maurer and Timo Bernhard met in a Porsche array during a Nürburgring in 2017. They fast delved deeply into any other’s particular métiers. As a childa sketch offers incontrovertible justification – Maurer had wanted to be a race-car driver. Bernhard, meanwhile, had during a age of 4 announced to his father and his buddies – recreational race-car drivers all – that he also wanted to competition cars. “‘But not usually for fun like we guys,’ we said,” recalls Bernhard with a laugh. “I wish to be successful and acquire money!” combined a now forty-year-old during a time. And he never let up. Kart, Formula racing – his relatives sensed his aspiration and never let on how parsimonious a income unequivocally was.

Looking back: Timo Bernhard reflects on his career and a many dangerous thing he ever did.

Starting in 2012, he was a initial motorist to fastener his approach into a Porsche plan to lapse to a tip difficulty of continuation racing. He gifted all a growth setbacks with a unconventional Le Mans prototype, a Porsche 919 Hybrid. Being a group actor and putting your possess ego on a behind burner aren’t usually cherished during a ESA – they’re also qualities that impersonate Bernhard. 

Le Mans prototype Porsche 919 Hybrid

In 2014, 2015, and 2016, altogether feat for Porsche during Le Mans seemed within strech for Bernhard. He finally scored a win, with tears in his eyes, in 2017. He was a best contestant via his whole career. He also doggedly worked his approach into a record so that he could be even some-more concerned in improving a cars. Race-car drivers are also tellurian information recorders for engineers. Open books each in. of a way. In 2018, he gathering a 919 Hybrid Evo, a serve expansion of a competition car, to a world-renowned path record on a Nordschleife of a Nürburgring: 5:19:546 minutes. “It was a many dangerous thing we ever did in my career,” he admits. 

The drive

“Early on, it was a pristine fun of a production of driving,” says Bernhard. “Mastering a kart, drifting, removing faster. Then a rival partial came into play. The third and many critical aspect was a after insight: a will to allege technology.” Very few people are aware, he says, of what they owe to engine racing. The peculiarity of their brakes, for example; protected cosmetic tanks; fuel-saving and performance-enhancing aerodynamics; fit turbochargers; or worldly appetite government in hybrid and electric vehicles. “With a Porsche 919 Hybrid, we modernized into a 800-volt record that would strech array majority in a Porsche Taycan. In Formula E a cars are all-electric and in a Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup we exam renewable fuels. Motorsport takes shortcoming for technological advancement.” 

Testing technologies for a destiny is also what drives Maurer. He points to a satellites – a “eyes” with that we observe a world – that capacitate continue forecasts, navigation, and communication. “But a many tolerable product from space scrutiny is a use of solar energy. We combined this record in space and continue to rise it there.” And thereafter there’s this: “From circuit we can see how skinny is a blue line that forms a meridian of a Earth. We have to strengthen it better!” 

Moon idea a subsequent goal

Races – running, on horseback or in a automobile – are as primitive and consistent a underline of tellurian multitude as that that initial changed Maurer: “We humans have always looked to a sky and wanted to know a universe. We can learn from a Moon, that partial of a Earth that lay inexperienced for 4 and a half billion years.” He hopes that in a after idea he might set feet on a Moon himself. “By a finish of this decade,” he predicts, “people will land there again. And this time we will be entrance to stay.” The aim will be to beget air, water, and fuel from lunar sand. Later, a methods will be used on Mars. “A lapse tour to Mars durability during slightest 5 hundred days would make no clarity if people were not in good condition when they arrived and a booster were usually means to lift a comprehensive necessities of survival,” he elaborates.

Going boldly

Recklessness is not deliberate a certain charge in possibly astronauts or race-car drivers. Calculated risk is a handling principle. “It’s important,” says Maurer, “to knowledge my earthy boundary in training in sequence to equivocate doing so if misfortune comes to worst. I’m ostensible to duty as a researcher, after all.” For a start and landing, he relies on experience. “The plug can withstand even an uncontrolled, ballistic reentry into a atmosphere. Although in that box we would quickly have to withstand adult to 9 or ten g. Usually it tops out during 3.5 to four g. Timo would face aloft army during braking and, above all, with parallel acceleration in corners, that frequently strech adult to five g.” He will feel utterly protected on a ISS – all is monitored and controlled. But a spacewalk? “That really takes some courage,” he says. “There’s usually 3 millimeters of plexiglass between me and certain death. Colleagues have told me about a impulse when they non-stop a induce and they gifted a fear of falling, that of march in lightness is absurd. But if we remove a umbilical cord to a station, you’re space junk.” 

Nordschleife record with a 919 Hybrid Evo

Bernhard, too, was always unwavering of a risks. “I was no daredevil driver. My character was some-more to go easy on a element and expostulate strategically. But for a Nordschleife path with a 919 Evo, we really indispensable all a bravery we could muster. No one had finished that before. There was simply no script.” He describes a endeavour as old-school lane meets high-tech competition car. Top speed: 369.4 kmh. “The tragedy was extreme,” he concedes. “I had prepared myself super meticulously with a team, threw all into a lap, and was most in a confusion afterwards.” His senses were maxed out. But even in those well-developed circumstances, he kept his wits about him: “Reducing a comprehensive extent of a probable by 1 percent cut a risk in half.” It was precisely for that capability that Porsche chose him as a driver.

The subsequent day

What happens when a biggest idea has been achieved? Maurer has seen colleagues who fell into a hole after a idea – who had turn dependant to a disturb of a subsequent mission. “I’ll face that conditions of wanting to find new goals as well. I’m extraordinary to see how that knowledge will impact me.” 

Bernhard finished his pushing career “when we sensed that we had reached my zenith.” He feels over in his new purpose as a Porsche code envoy for forward-looking record and electromobility. He passes on his experience, ancillary immature prospects on his possess racing team. In 2018, he gladly supposed Maurer’s invitation to revisit a training core for ISS astronauts in perfume and got to know a ISS modules. Bernhard’s unrestrained done an sense during home as well: his eldest son – Paul, who is 8 – wants to be an astronaut. In a fall, father and son wish to transport to Florida to declare Maurer’s launch into space. Matthias Maurer and Timo Bernhard have a same summary for immature people: stay curious, listen to your heart, and don’t be intimidated. Only those who have dreams can make them come true.


Text initial published in a Porsche patron repository Christophorus, No. 400.

Author: Heike Hientzsch

Photographers: Tim Upietz, Jürgen Tap, NASA, Matthias Kulka (Getty Images)

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