Journey to ESA astronaut selection centre

The journey to Hamburg went off without a hitch, though it was genuinely so strange to be in an airport again after so long. I had bought myself some kids mental maths workbooks to run through and so I spent some time in the airport and on the plane doing some simple maths problems.

Upon arrival in Germany I used the ESA-paid taxi to drop me at the hotel. I arrived fairly late in the day so I didn’t have long to settle in. But I was really pleasantly surprised to find that ESA were paying for food at the hotel so I booked a table for dinner and then headed to my room.

I took so much stuff with me to make the room cosy and I took the time to completely unpack and make myself at home, which is usual for me.

Then I headed to dinner. At this point, I hadn’t really crossed paths with anyone except staff in the hotel. And so when the waitress asked me if I was with the “ESA group”, I was more than a little confused. It turns out that the hotel seats us all together, keeping the candidates from each test day on different tables. So I got to sit with 3 other candidates!

I had no idea what to expect but I was so happy to find that there was a really nice atmosphere with everyone excited to be along for the ride. I sat with Gonzalo, a test pilot from Spain; Patricia, a Spanish aerospace engineer working with NASA in California; and Alexia, a French evolutionary biologist also working in California. It was so nice to meet new people with such varied backgrounds and just chill out and spend time getting to know each other. The food was really nice as well, I had a mushroom risotto that was delicious.

We all headed to bed early, unsurprisingly. It was going to be an early start for me – I had just jumped forward one time zone plus we needed to be at the test centre by 0745, so I was heading to breakfast for 7am.

I felt tired but my brain was firing on all cylinders for most of the night and my sleep app shows that I got about 2 hours sleep. I had to persuade myself that as long as I had rested well enough, it wasn’t going to affect my performance too badly to have one sleepless night and so I managed not to get wound up about it.

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