This astronaut is spending his SpaceX launch delay cleaning up a Florida beach

German Crew-3 astronaut Matthias Maurer, of the European Space Agency, poses with trash bags during a launch delay. Credit: Matthias Maurer/European Space Agency Twitter
German Crew-3 astronaut Matthias Maurer, of the European Space Agency, poses with trash bags during a launch delay. Credit: Matthias Maurer/European Space Agency Twitter (Image credit: Matthias Maurer/ESA/Twitter)

A German astronaut is showing his love for Earth during a few extra days on the planet's surface before his first space mission.

Matthias Maurer, who is waiting with the rest of Crew-3 team for a delayed ride to the International Space Station, has spent part of his quarantine picking up trash on the Florida beach, within range of his SpaceX launch site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The mission, which will launch four astronauts to the station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket, will launch no earlier than Saturday (Nov. 6).

Live Updates: SpaceX's Crew-3 astronaut mission

"I've been relaxing during my quarantine by collecting rubbish on the beach 😳 ," Maurer wrote on Twitter, showing a picture of himself holding a large trash bag. 

"Sadly, this is not the only bag I filled," he continued. "We really need to think about our environmental impact on Earth and in space. Clean oceans, clean space! It's up to all of us."

The crew was delayed first by weather and then by an astronaut medical issue, which NASA did not disclose in detail except to say it was not COVID-19.

Maurer's first space mission on behalf of the European Space Agency is appropriately called "Cosmic Kiss", which is meant to declare how much he loves space — a love that clearly also extends to the planet Earth.

“It communicates the special connection the Station provides between Earth’s inhabitants and the cosmos," Maurer said of his mission name in a 2020 ESA blog post. "It also conveys the value of partnership in exploring farther to the Moon and Mars, alongside the need to respect, protect and preserve the nature of our home planet as we seek a sustainable future on Earth."

SpaceX's Crew-3 mission astronauts smile during a launch rehearsal inside their Crew Dragon Endurance capsule on Oct. 28, 2021 ahead of their launch to the International Space Station on Nov. 3, 2021. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Maurer has been designated the 600th person in space and when he reaches orbit, he will be accompanied by three NASA astronauts: mission commander Raja Chari, pilot Tom Marshburn and mission specialist Kayla Barron. With the exception of Marshburn, the other three astronauts are on their first spaceflights. Crew-3 is expected to spend about six months in orbit.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: