Covering the return of a European astronaut

Dirma van EckDirma van Eck
  16 February 2024

On 10 February ESA project astronaut Marcus Wandt returned from space, and our Human Spaceflight editor Laura Zurmuehlen was on hand to cover it, on behalf of ESA. This was Laura’s fourth live coverage of a Direct Return, and she shared the experience with us.

Direct returns are always a special moment, and I feel fortunate when I get the chance to be there, in the middle of the action, reporting live from the event. It’s one of those moments when all the hard work during astronaut missions reaches a final milestone, and you get to see the astronaut you have worked with while they were in space, in person again — just a few hours or a day after they have been floating in space.

It’s an incredible experience to get the prime spot in the front row at the airport and capture the first moments of an astronaut stepping out of the plane back in Europe. This moment must be emotional for them as well! And I have the privilege of capturing this on camera and sharing it with all the space fans who cannot be on-site.

The general feeling is always super positive, with people excited to welcome back the astronaut. Everyone is in a happy mood, and this time we had amazing weather!

As always, Marcus had the biggest smile when he came out of the plane and walked towards the cheering crowd – it was amazing to be part of this moment.

(Banner image credit: ESA)