European Astronaut Corps
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European Astronaut Corps

The European Astronaut Corps is a unit of the European Space Agency (ESA) that selects, trains, and provides astronauts as crew members on U.S. and Russian space missions. As of Nov 2014, 24 ESA astronauts are now able to go board the ISS. There are currently 47 members of the Corps, 26 currently active. The European Astronaut Corps is based at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. They can be assigned to various projects both in Europe (at ESTEC, for instance) or elsewhere in the world, at NASA Johnson Space Center or Star City.


Selection of new astronauts in 2009

According to French weekly Air & Cosmos, only six astronauts (Fuglesang, Schlegel, Nespoli, Eyharts, De Winne and Kuipers) remain available for immediate flight. Vittori and Clervoy are on temporary leave or assigned to other duties. The head of human spaceflight at ESA recommended that at least four more astronauts (plus four other in reserve) should be added after the launch of Columbus in February 2008.

On April 3, 2008, ESA director general Jean-Jacques Dordain announced that recruiting for a new class of European astronauts will start in the near future.[1] The selection program for 4 new astronauts was launched on May 19, 2008 with applications due by 16 June 2008[] so that final selection would be due spring 2009.[2] Almost 10 000 people registered as astronaut candidates 2008-06-18. 8413 fulfilled the initial application criteria. From these 918 were chosen to take part in the first stage of psychological testing which led to 192 candidates in 2008-09-24. After two stage psychological tests 80 candidates will continue to medical evaluation in January/February 2009. 40 or so candidates will head to a formal interviews to select the four new members to European Astronaut Corps.[2]

Future of the European Astronaut Corps

After the ISS

The funding by NASA and Russia of the International Space Station is currently planned to end in 2028. The role of European astronauts beyond this point is unclear. Some speculation suggests ESA's involvement with Nasa's Orion programme may give European astronauts a seat aboard the Orion spacecraft, although this has not been announced.

Current members

There are fourteen active members of the European Astronaut Corps.

All of the current members of the corps have flown to space, except Maurer. All flown members except Jean-François Clervoy have visited the ISS. Paolo Nespoli is the member of the corps who has spent the most time in space, more than 313 days. The European record for total time spent in space belongs to former German astronaut Thomas Reiter with 350 days. The oldest is Hans Schlegel, born in 1951. The corps currently includes one woman, Samantha Cristoforetti, who formerly held the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman. Only two other women have been members of the corps. Marianne Merchez who never flew, and Claudie Haigneré who resigned after two missions to start a political career in France.

Former members

There are thirteen former members of the ESA.[4]

* No space missions

Non-ESA European astronauts/cosmonauts (excluding Russians)

Soviet Union's Interkosmos program participants


Space Shuttle missions

Astronauts from the European Astronaut Corps participated in several NASA Space Shuttle missions before the ISS era, in particular as Spacelab Payload Specialists. (This list excludes missions to Mir or the ISS)

As Payload Specialists

As Mission Specialists

Missions to the Mir space stations

Astronauts from Europe have flown to Mir both on board Soyuz vehicles (as part of the Euromir programme) or on board the Space Shuttle.[5]

Missions to the International Space Station

European astronauts to have visited the ISS are:

Astronaut Agency Mission Launch Return Expedition Launch Date Return Date Note
Italy Blue Mars symbol.svg Umberto Guidoni ESA STS-100 STS-100 Expedition 2 19 Apr 2001 1 May 2001 Flight 6A with MPLM Raffaello
France Symbol venus.svg Claudie Haigneré CNES Andromède Soyuz TM-33 Soyuz TM-32 Expedition 3 21 Oct 2001 31 Oct 2001
Italy Blue Mars symbol.svg Roberto Vittori ESA Marco Polo Soyuz TM-34 Soyuz TM-33 Expedition 4 25 Apr 2002 5 May 2002
France Blue Mars symbol.svg Philippe Perrin CNES STS-111 STS-111 Expedition 4, 5 5 Jun 2002 19 Jun 2002 ISS Assembly Flight UF-2
Belgium Blue Mars symbol.svg Frank De Winne ESA Odissea Soyuz TMA-1 Soyuz TM-34 Expedition 5 30 Oct 2002 10 Nov 2002
Spain Blue Mars symbol.svg Pedro Duque ESA Cervantes Soyuz TMA-3 Soyuz TMA-2 Expedition 7, 8 18 Oct 2003 28 Oct 2003
Netherlands Blue Mars symbol.svg André Kuipers ESA DELTA Soyuz TMA-4 Soyuz TMA-3 Expedition 8, Expedition 9 19 Apr 2004 30 Apr 2004
Italy Blue Mars symbol.svg Roberto Vittori ESA Eneide Soyuz TMA-6 Soyuz TMA-5 Expedition 10, 11 15 Apr 2005 24 Apr 2005
Germany Blue Mars symbol.svg Thomas Reiter ESA Astrolab STS-121 STS-116 Expedition 13, 14 4 Jul 2006 22 Dec 2006 ISS Assembly Flight ULF 1.1
Sweden Blue Mars symbol.svg Christer Fuglesang ESA Celsius STS-116 STS-116 Expedition 14 10 Dec 2006 22 Dec 2006 ISS Assembly Flight 12A.1
Italy Blue Mars symbol.svg Paolo Nespoli ESA Esperia STS-120 STS-120 Expedition 16 23 Oct 2007 7 Nov 2007 ISS Assembly Flight 10A
Germany Blue Mars symbol.svg Hans Schlegel ESA Columbus STS-122 STS-122 Expedition 16 7 Feb 2008 20 Feb 2008 ISS Assembly Flight 1E
France Blue Mars symbol.svg Léopold Eyharts ESA Columbus STS-122 STS-123 Expedition 16 7 Feb 2008 27 Mar 2008 ISS Assembly Flight 1E
Belgium Blue Mars symbol.svg Frank De Winne ESA OasISS Soyuz TMA-15 Soyuz TMA-15 Expedition 20, 21 27 May 2009 1 Dec 2009 First European commander of the ISS, Expedition 21
Sweden Blue Mars symbol.svg Christer Fuglesang ESA AlISSé STS-128 STS-128 Expedition 20 29 Aug 2009 12 Sep 2009 ISS Assembly Flight 17A
Italy Blue Mars symbol.svg Paolo Nespoli ESA MagISStra Soyuz TMA-20 Soyuz TMA-20 Expedition 26, 27 15 Dec 2010 24 May 2011
Italy Blue Mars symbol.svg Roberto Vittori ESA DAMA STS-134 STS-134 Expedition 27, 28 16 May 2011 1 Jun 2011
Netherlands Blue Mars symbol.svg André Kuipers ESA PromISSe Soyuz TMA-03M Soyuz TMA-03M Expedition 30, 31 21 Dec 2011 1 Jul 2012
Italy Blue Mars symbol.svg Luca Parmitano ESA Volare Soyuz TMA-09M Soyuz TMA-09M Expedition 36, 37 28 May 2013 11 Nov 2013
Germany Blue Mars symbol.svg Alexander Gerst ESA Blue Dot Soyuz TMA-13M Soyuz TMA-13M Expedition 40, 41 28 May 2014 10 Nov 2014
Italy Symbol venus.svg Samantha Cristoforetti ESA Futura Soyuz TMA-15M Soyuz TMA-15M Expedition 42, 43 23 Nov 2014 11 Jun 2015 Longest uninterrupted spaceflight of a European astronaut
Denmark Blue Mars symbol.svg Andreas Mogensen ESA IrISS[6] Soyuz TMA-18M Soyuz TMA-16M Expedition 44 2 Sep 2015 12 Sep 2015
United Kingdom Blue Mars symbol.svg Timothy Peake ESA Principia[7] Soyuz TMA-19M Soyuz TMA-19M Expedition 46, 47 15 Dec 2015 18 June 2016
France Blue Mars symbol.svg Thomas Pesquet ESA Proxima[8] Soyuz MS-03 Soyuz MS-03 Expedition 50, 51 17 Nov 2016 16 May 2017
Italy Blue Mars symbol.svg Paolo Nespoli[9] ESA Vita Soyuz MS-05 Soyuz MS-05 Expedition 52, 53 28 July 2017 14 December 2017
In Progress
Germany Blue Mars symbol.svg Alexander Gerst ESA Horizons Soyuz MS-09 Soyuz MS-09 Expedition 56, 57 6 June 2018 Dec 2018 Gerst will become the second European commander of the ISS
Italy Blue Mars symbol.svg Luca Parmitano ESA Expedition 60, 61 Parmitano will become the third European commander of the ISS

See also


  1. ^ Clark, Stephen (3 April 2008). "Europe's new cargo freighter safely docks to space station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Closing in on new astronauts". ESA. 24 September 2008. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ "ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano to be Space Station commander on his next flight". ESA. May 31, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ "European astronauts in new functions". ESA. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 2016.
  5. ^ "European Manned Spaceflight Patches" (PDF). ESA. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 2010.
  6. ^ "The iriss name and logos". ESA. 25 November 2015. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ "ESA mission name for astronaut Tim Peake: Principia F". ESA. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ "Thomas Pesquet closer to space with mission name Proxima". ESA. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "Third spaceflight for astronaut Paolo Nespoli". ESA. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 2016.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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