Welcome to my blog! My name’s Suzanna, I’m an astrophysicist – and since the beginning of 2018 I’m also an astronaut trainee for Astronautin. “Astronautin” means “female astronaut” in German, and is a private initiative dedicated to sending the first German woman into space. Because – believe it or not – Germany has so far sent 11 men into space, but not a single woman! Our team from Astronautin are working very hard to change that, and to show the next generation that there ARE women working in all areas of science and technology, that this is a rewarding sector to build a career in – and that there is no reason to shy away from STEM subjects just because you happen to be female!
I am originally from Cologne, Germany. For as long as I can remember, I have always loved space, especially the crazy distances and timescales involved and the sheer mind-bogglingness of it all. As a teenager I plastered by room with beautiful pictures of nebulae and galaxies – along with Bon Jovi and the Beverly Hills 90210 gang. Although I was not particularly talented at maths or physics for most of my school years I ended up studying Astronomy at University College London in the UK. Apart from the obvious appeal of living in London, I liked that we got to go to Mill Hill observatory from the first week of the course and could get our hands dirty doing “real astronomy” from the beginning. During my master’s project there I made the acquaintance of pulsating subdwarf B stars, which carried me to Montreal, Canada for a PhD at the (somewhat inconveniently I thought at first) francophone Université de Montréal. Following a short sabbatical during which I tried to help save the Ecuadorian rainforest I returned to Germany to work for ESO, the European Southern Observatory, where I have been ever since (although I changed jobs internally a few times). While I am based at the ESO headquarters in Garching near Munich, I spend quite a lot of time in Chile, notably at the ALMA telescope up in the Atacama desert, a truly exceptional area of the world.
I was quite happy and settled when in 2016 I happened to see a job advert on my favourite online news site soliciting applications for the first female German astronaut. How exciting! I spontaneously applied, not really thinking I stood much of a chance. But somehow, several rounds of assessment and an extended cleansing stay in Japan later, I joined the Astronautin project as an astronaut trainee. And the rest, as they say, is history. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences and thoughts on life, the universe and pretty much everything that pops into my mind as I continue on this journey that will hopefully one day lead me into space.