European Astronaut Corps

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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 May 2010, 21 ESA astronauts have flown in space, including one woman. There are currently 14 active members of the Corps. 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.


Future of the European Astronaut Corps[edit]

Selection of new astronauts[edit]

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[2] so that final selection would be due spring 2009.[3] 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 lead 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.[3]

After the ISS[edit]

The funding by NASA and Russia of the International Space Station is scheduled to end in 2020. The role and activities of European astronauts beyond this date is unclear.


There are fourteen active members of the European Astronaut Corps.

Time in space
Jean-François Clervoy Blue Mars symbol.svg  France 1992 ESA Group 28d 03h 05m STS-66, STS-84, STS-103
Samantha Cristoforetti Symbol venus.svg  Italy 2009 ESA Group
Frank De Winne Blue Mars symbol.svg  Belgium 1998 ESA Group 198d 17h 34m Soyuz TMA-1, Soyuz TM-34, Soyuz TMA-15, Expedition 20 (ISS), Expedition 21 (ISS)
Léopold Eyharts Blue Mars symbol.svg  France 1998 ESA Group 68d 21h 31m Soyuz TM-27, Soyuz TM-26, STS-122, Expedition 16 (ISS), STS-123
Christer Fuglesang Blue Mars symbol.svg  Sweden 1992 ESA Group 26d 17h 38m STS-116, STS-128
Alexander Gerst Blue Mars symbol.svg  Germany 2009 ESA Group Currently in space Soyuz TMA-13M (Expedition 40)
André Kuipers Blue Mars symbol.svg  Netherlands 1998 ESA Group 203d 15h 51m Soyuz TMA-4, Soyuz TMA-3, Soyuz TMA-03M, Expedition 30, Expedition 31
Andreas Mogensen Blue Mars symbol.svg  Denmark 2009 ESA Group
Paolo A. Nespoli Blue Mars symbol.svg  Italy 1998 ESA Group 174d 09h 40m STS-120, Soyuz TMA-20, Expedition 26 (ISS)
Luca Parmitano Blue Mars symbol.svg  Italy 2009 ESA Group 166d 6h 19m Expedition 36, Expedition 37
Timothy Peake Blue Mars symbol.svg  United Kingdom 2009 ESA Group
Thomas Pesquet Blue Mars symbol.svg  France 2009 ESA Group
Hans Schlegel Blue Mars symbol.svg  Germany 1998 ESA Group 22d 18h 02m STS-55, STS-122
Roberto Vittori Blue Mars symbol.svg  Italy 1998 ESA Group 35d 12h 26m Soyuz TM-34, Soyuz TM-33, Soyuz TMA-6, Soyuz TMA-5, STS-134

Ten of the current members of the corps have flown in space. Of the ten, all except Jean-François Clervoy have visited the ISS.

André Kuipers is the member of the corps who has spent the most time in space on a single mission, more than 194 days. The European record for total time spent in space belongs to former German astronaut Thomas Reiter with 350 days.

The youngest member of the corps is Thomas Pesquet, born in 1978, while the oldest is Hans Schlegel, born in 1951. The corps currently includes one woman, Samantha Cristoforetti. Only two other women have been members of the corps. Marianne Merchez who never flew, and Claudie Haigneré who resigned after two flights to start a political career in France. The only minority member is Léopold Eyharts, who belongs to the Basque ethnic group.

Former members[edit]

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

* No space missions

Non ESA European Astronauts[edit]

Warsaw Pact (1955-1991) Cosmonauts[edit]

Other Astronauts[edit]

NASA Space Shuttle missions[edit]

Astronauts from the European Astronaut Corps participated in several Space Shuttle missions before the ISS era, in particular as Spacelab Payload Specialists.

As Payload Specialists[edit]

As Mission Specialists[edit]

Missions on space stations[edit]

Mir visits[edit]

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

ISS visits[edit]

ESA astronauts to have visited the ISS are:

Upcoming missions[edit]

Crew members[edit]

Back-up crew members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Spaceflight Now | ATV Mission Report | Europe's new cargo freighter safely docks to space station
  2. ^[dead link]
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^ "European Manned Spaceflight Patches". ESA. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst to fly to Space Station in 2014". ESA. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  7. ^ ESA astronaut Timothy Peake set for Space Station 20 May 2013

External links[edit]