German astronaut Alexander Gerst to embark on second space mission

German astronaut Alexander Gerst has been selected for a second six-month mission to the International Space Station(ISS) which starts in May, 2018, European Space Agency (ESA) Director General Jan Woerner announced on Wednesday.

The announcement was made during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the European Astronaut Center of the ESA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne.

Merkel congratulated Gerst after the announcement. Gerst, 38, set on his first trip to the space station two years ago and stayed there for six months.

In her tour, Merkel held talks in the DLR laboratory with students about their research projects and discussed in the DLR with Gerst about his experiments on the ISS.

The Chancellor said she saw the German contribution to the international space research had brought many benefits for daily life, adding she is proud that Germany is a leading space nation in Europe.

The DLR acts on behalf of the German government for planning and implementation of the German space program and cooperates with the ESA. The German government annually provides over 1 billion euros(1.13 billion U.S. dollars) for research in the aerospace field. (Xinhua)