Space Department

Newly hired astronauts first complete a year and a half of basic training, where they familiarize themselves with aerospace and electrical engineering as well as various other scientific disciplines that are important for manned spaceflight. In a further teaching module they get to know the systems of the respective space station.
The basic training is supplemented by imparting special skills. These include diving courses to train space walks, as well as robotics, coupling and docking maneuvers, Russian language courses, behavioral and performance training.
The advanced training focuses on special operational skills for the activities on board. The focus is on robotics, field work, language training, behavioral training and performance. Every astronaut goes through an aptitude test. In this way, the management can put together crews in which all essential skills for a particular flight are represented.

Mission preparation is the final phase of training and begins once an astronaut has been selected for a specific mission. The astronaut visits the training centers for around two and a half years, thereby acquiring the knowledge and skills that he needs for his flight. Each astronaut in the space station has their own tasks, so each crew member receives tailor-made training.
The astronauts practice normal operation, troubleshooting and replacing defective on-board equipment.

Labor trainer

The laboratory on board a space station is the research facility in space. The training enables practical knowledge to be imparted in a simulator to operate and monitor all systems of a laboratory trainer.

Hardware trainer

The space laboratory houses four experimental facilities: BioLab, Fluid Science Lab, Physiology Modules and Drawer Rack. Appropriate training models are available for all four research modules.

Model and Simulator
The space laboratory houses four experimental facilities: BioLab, Fluid Science Lab, Physiology Modules and Drawer Rack. Appropriate training models are available in the EAC for all four research modules.
Zero Buoyancy Laboratory
The Zero Buoyancy Laboratory is a huge water tank in which space walks can be trained. The astronauts wear spacesuits that are balanced so that they neither rise nor fall. The feeling of weightlessness on earth cannot be simulated closer to reality.

In over 400 hours of training, the astronauts learn how to operate, monitor and maintain the European modules, vehicles and experimental facilities of the space station.
The astronaut department is responsible for the work planning of the astronauts. This includes selection, career management, maintaining the level of knowledge, performance level and physical fitness, deployment planning and support as well as the safety of the crews.
Taking care of the astronauts is about alleviating the special burdens on personal (family) life that result from the long periods of absence from home. The support group takes care of all non-training-relevant needs of the astronauts and their close relatives during the preparation, implementation and follow-up of space flights.
The staff unit for the medical care of the crews is dedicated to the areas of prevention, human behavior and performance, but also offers the astronauts medical training and support services.
They physically prepare the astronauts for space flights and watch over their health during the missions, which last up to six months.

Medical care of the crews

The staff unit for the medical care of the crews is dedicated to the areas of prevention, behavioral training and performance, but also offers the astronauts medical training and support services.
The staff unit is responsible for the selection, certification and recertification of astronauts. Doctors, biomedical engineers, fitness specialists, psychologists, IT specialists, administrative staff and project managers work here.
Before take-off, an aviation doctor carries out all possible examinations to ensure that the astronauts are fit to fly. In space, the medical team tries to make the mission as pleasant as possible. After landing, the task is to get the astronauts back on their feet as quickly as possible.
The Medical Projects and Medical Technology department employs other specialists in sports science, IT, medical training and project management who also look after the health of the astronauts in orbit. These specialists prepare future projects and train the space medicine specialists of tomorrow.

Which subjects and qualifications are required for an application?
Applicants must have a university degree (or equivalent) in a natural science subject (physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics), engineering or medicine, and preferably at least three years of relevant work experience or flight experience as a pilot. Naturally, the candidates should have a good knowledge of at least one of the scientific disciplines. Studying aerospace engineering is a great advantage, but not a requirement. Important: Whatever you have studied, you should above all be good in your subject.
According to which medical and psychological standards are the candidates selected?

Astronauts must have a wide range of knowledge, skills and qualities. An important component in the search for people with the right qualifications is an assessment of the applicant’s state of health from a medical and psychological point of view. Below is a general overview of the medical and psychological health criteria for assessing candidates.

In general, normal medical and psychological health standards apply. These standards were developed from evidence-based medicine and verified in clinical studies.


  • Applicants must pass a health examination according to JAR-FCL 3, class 2, which has to be carried out by a flight doctor (AME) approved by the national aero-medical authority.
  • Applicants must not have any illnesses.
  • Applicants must not be addicted to drugs, alcohol or tobacco.
  • Applicants must have unrestricted mobility and normal functionality in all joints.
  • Applicants must achieve 100% (20/20) vision in both eyes, uncorrected or through correction with glasses or contact lenses.
  • Applicants must not have any mental disorders.
  • Applicants must have the cognitive, mental and character skills required to work efficiently in an environment with high intellectual and social demands.


IKON Aerospace Center

Space Training Center
Freilagerstrasse 32
8047 Zürich

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