Biographies of International Astronauts




Alexander Gerst

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Personal data

Birthdate:  03.05.1976
Birthplace:  Künzelsau
Marital status:  
Selection date:  20.05.2009
Selection group:  ESA-3 / EAC
Position:  MSP
Status:  active


No. Mission Position Time Duration
1  Soyuz TMA-13M / ISS-40 / ISS-41  Flight Engineer  28.05.2014 - 10.11.2014 165d 08h 01m 
2  Soyuz MS-09 / ISS-56 / ISS-57  Flight Engineer / ISS-CDR  06.06.2018 - 20.12.2018 196d 17h 50m 
Total  362d 01h 51m 
Patch Soyuz TMA-13M Patch ISS-40 Patch ISS-41 Patch Soyuz MS-09 Patch ISS-56 Patch ISS-57  

Backup assignments

No. Mission Position
1  Soyuz TMA-11M  Flight Engineer
2  Soyuz MS-07  Flight Engineer

Additional information

Alexander Gerst graduated from the Technical High School in Öhringen, Germany, in 1995. In 2003 he received a diploma in geophysics from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, and a master’s degree in Earth sciences from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Both degrees were awarded with distinction. In 2010 Alexander Gerst graduated with a Doctorate in Natural Sciences at the Institute of Geophysics of the University of Hamburg, Germany. His dissertation was on geophysics and volcanic eruption dynamics ((Mount Erebus).
During school, Alexander Gerst volunteered as a boy scout leader, fire-fighter and water rescue lifeguard. As a student, from 1998 to 2003 he participated in various international scientific collaborations and field experiments. Several of these expeditions led him to remote locations such as Antarctica where he installed scientific instruments. From 2001 to 2003, researching his master’s thesis on a volcano in New Zealand, Alex developed new volcano monitoring techniques that might improve forecasts of volcanic eruptions. The results were published in Science Magazine. Alexander Gerst worked on developing scientific instruments at the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Hamburg between 2004 and 2009. From 2005 to 2009, whilst at the Institute of Geophysics, he also worked towards his doctorate, investigating volcanic eruption dynamics on active volcanoes. His research goal was to determine the mechanics and the energy released during the first seconds of a volcanic eruption. His research led him to visit volcanoes on all continents, concentrating on an active volcano in Antarctica. In 2007 Alexander Gerst received the Bernd Rendel award for outstanding research from the DFG German Research Foundation.
Alexander Gerst was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009. He joined ESA in September 2009 and completed Astronaut Basic Training in November 2010.
His favourite sports are fencing, swimming and running. He especially enjoys outdoor activities such as skydiving, snowboarding, hiking, mountaineering, climbing and scuba diving.


Last update on February 16, 2019.