Their hands are inside unwieldy spacesuit gloves, their feet in clunky boots, and the air they breathe comes through a tube. German astronaut candidate Alexander Gerst and his Italian colleague Samantha Cristoforetti are floating in a water tank designed for weightlessness training. The tank is located at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) of the European Space Agency (ESA), on the grounds of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Cologne. What neither of them knows yet is that trainer Hervé Stevenin has prepared a number of surprises for this ‘excursion into space’. These include swapped tools and a fainting fit.