Dr Kass’ experience of working with astronauts spans a period of three decades during his long career in human spaceflight. Much of this experience was gathered during crew training - preparing the crew to perform scientific experiments during their missions in space. The work also involved operations of the experiments during the missions, including ground-to-space communications, where Kass communicated directly with the space crew (payload and missions specialists) on board the Space Shuttle working in the European built Spacelab.
The work involved working with various international and national space agencies, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, the German Space Agency (DLR), the French Space Agency (CNES), and the Russian Space Agency. This work covered the very first use of Spacelab and the collaboration of more than a 100 experiments of scientists across the world. This first mission also saw the first ESA astronaut, Dr Ulf Merbold, take his first flight into space. Dr Kass also worked on the first German Spacelab mission (Spacelab-D1), which for the first time saw three European astronauts fly into space. For these Spacelab missions Dr Kass headed the experiment preparation, crew training, ground tests, parabolic flight tests, pre-flight and post-flight baseline data collection and ground-crew communications and experiment operations activities for the entire European Vestibular experiments representing seven academic institutions across seven European countries.
Some missions were very challenging, such as MIR-97 during which a fire broke out on the MIR station, which also suffered a collision that caused a serious decompression of one of the modules as well as the destruction of an array of solar panels. Other more minor challenges involved preparing procedures and carrying out crew training in three languages (Russian, English, and German).
Other work involved working together on various projects under the auspices of the European Space Agency in preparation for ESA’s participation on the International Space Station (ISS). These projects saw the first collaboration between the Russian space agency and ESA, which was organized by Dr Kass, and involved Russian cosmonauts as well as former Skylab astronauts and ESA astronauts.
A brief summary of this experience, providing some information on which crew were involved, and the corresponding missions and projects, is summarized under each space traveller below.