Astronaut School

In: Antarctica, Europe

I met my team! We are back at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne for a teamwork and conflict management training, the ESA Human Behaviour and Performance Training (HBP) class to be exact.

But most importantly, I finally met my team, my new family for the year in Antarctica! The Concordia Station is a French-Italian base, so I’ll have an international family: 6 Italians, 4 French, 1 Belgian, 1 Catalan and me, representing the United Kingdom of the Netherlands!

The HBP training focused on the optimization of teamwork in extreme situations, and was introduced as part of the astronaut training program. Even though I’m sure that we will have plenty of opportunities to ‘cool down’, being locked up in a small multi-cultural group for a year will be quite an undertaking. This week we learned about some of the possible challenges of teamwork, including different communication styles and cultural influences.

To even start the training, we had to agree on what combination of languages to use. Our native languages are quite diverse: French, Italian, Catalan, Dutch, Spanish, Greek, English and German, so we agreed to use a mix of French, Italian and English; or Concordian as we named it. Our new language made it possible to get through a lot of info about Concordia, as well as nice exercises like flipping a flying carpet while standing on it, with minimal misunderstandings…

The second part of the week was all about baseline data collection (BDC), after everyone signed up to participate in my experiments, the first set of data was collected. As a participant as well, it was quite tough to try to fully explain my experiments to the team while being screened for my baseline data at the same time. After doing my first MRI (yes, I have a brain), dexa-scan (no, I’m not so big-boned) and lots of cognitive tests I can officially say: It. Is. On!

Concordia here WE come!!

Head trainers I met: Loredana Bessone & Susan Buckle

Official training title: ESA Human Behaviour and Performance Training for Concordia Over-Winterers.

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