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. The corps has 13 active members, able to serve on the International Space Station (ISS). 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.
There are seven active members of the European Astronaut Corps.
||Time in space
|Samantha Cristoforetti||Italy||2009 ESA Group||199d 16h 43m||Soyuz TMA-15M (Expedition 42/43), Crew-4 (Expedition 67/68) (Planned)|
|Alexander Gerst||Germany||2009 ESA Group||362d 1h 50m||Soyuz TMA-13M (Expedition 40/41), Soyuz MS-09 (Expedition 56/57)|
|Andreas Mogensen||Denmark||2009 ESA Group||9d 20h 14m||Soyuz TMA-18M/16M|
|Luca Parmitano||Italy||2009 ESA Group||366d 23h 1m||Soyuz TMA-09M (Expedition 36/37), Soyuz MS-13 (Expedition 60/61)|
|Timothy Peake||United Kingdom||2009 ESA Group||185d 22h 11m||Soyuz TMA-19M (Expedition 46/47)|
|Thomas Pesquet||France||2009 ESA Group||396d 11h 34m||Soyuz MS-03 (Expedition 50/51), Crew-2 (Expedition 65/66)|
|Matthias Maurer||Germany||2015 ESA Group||Currently in space||Crew-3 (Expedition 66/67)|
All of the current members of the corps have flown to space. All flown members have visited the ISS. French astronaut Thomas Pesquet is the member of the corps who has accumulated the most time in space with 396 days 11 hours and 34 minutes. He is the record holder for all the European astronauts in history. 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.
On 3 April 2008, ESA director general Jean-Jacques Dordain announced that recruiting for a new class of European astronauts will start in the near future. The selection program for 4 new astronauts was launched on 19 May 2008 with applications due by 16 June 2008 so that final selection would be due spring 2009. Almost 10,000 people registered as astronaut candidates as of 18 June 2008. 8,413 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 on 24 September 2008. After two stage psychological tests 80 candidates continued on to medical evaluation in January–February 2009. 40 or so candidates head to formal interviews to select four new members to European Astronaut Corps.
A new recruitment round, for the 2022 ESA Astronaut Group, is currently underway. Between 4-6 new ESA astronaut candidates are expected to be announced in October 2022, as well as for the first time a "reserve pool" of astronaut candidates and also a person with a physical disability through the "parastronaut feasibility project".
The funding by NASA and Russia of the International Space Station is currently planned to end in 2030. Thanks to their involvement with NASA's Orion programme, ESA will receive three flight opportunities for European astronauts to the Lunar Gateway.
There are 18 former members of the ESA astronaut corps.
Some ESA astronauts were selected by other European agencies and then enrolled into the European Astronaut Corps in 1998.
European astronauts outside of ESA
- Aleksandr Panayotov Aleksandrov
- Jean-Loup Chrétien
- Bertalan Farkas
- Mirosław Hermaszewski
- Georgi Ivanov
- Sigmund Jähn
- Dumitru Prunariu
- Vladimír Remek
- Helen Sharman
- Franz Viehböck
NASA trained and flew astronauts from allied nations on the Space Shuttle, especially as payload specialists for scientific missions such as Spacelab. Prior to the foundation of the ESA astronaut corps, both the French CNES and the German DLR had selected their own rosters of astronauts, notably in preparation for the introduction of the ISS. The following people flew on various Shuttle missions.[a]
- Patrick Baudry
- Jean-Jacques Favier
- Dirk Frimout
- Reinhard Furrer
- Leonid Kadeniuk
- Franco Malerba
- Ulrich Walter
- Other European astronauts who flew on the Space Shuttle were transferred to the ESA astronaut corps, and are listed above.
The following people flew on missions to Mir under agreements between their nations and Russia.
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. NASA considered the full-time ESA astronauts as payload specialists, but offered some the opportunity to train with its own astronauts and become NASA mission specialists. (This list excludes missions to Mir or the ISS)
As Payload Specialists
- Ulf Merbold – STS-9 (Spacelab), STS-42 (Spacelab)
- Reinhard Furrer – STS-61-A (Spacelab-D1 Mission)
- Wubbo Ockels – STS-61-A (Spacelab-D1 Mission)
- Hans Schlegel – STS-55 (Spacelab-D2 Mission)
- Ulrich Walter – STS-55 (Spacelab-D2 Mission)
As Mission Specialists
- Claude Nicollier – STS-46, STS-61 (Hubble), STS-75, STS-103 (Hubble)
- Maurizio Cheli – STS-75
- Jean-François Clervoy – STS-66, STS-103 (Hubble)
- Gerhard Thiele – STS-99
- Pedro Duque – STS-95
Missions to the Mir space stations
- Jean-Loup Chrétien – Aragatz (1988) France
- Helen Sharman – Project Juno (1991) UK
- Franz Viehböck – Austromir '91 (1991) Austria
- Klaus-Dietrich Flade – Mir '92 (1992) Germany
- Michel Tognini – Antarès (1992) France
- Jean-Pierre Haigneré – Altair (1993) France
- Ulf Merbold – Euromir '94 (1994) Germany
- Thomas Reiter – Euromir '95 (1995) Germany
- Claudie Haigneré – Cassiopée (1996) France
- Reinhold Ewald – Mir '97 (1997) Germany
- Jean-Loup Chrétien – STS-86 (1997) France
- Léopold Eyharts – Pégase (1998) France
- Jean-Pierre Haigneré – Perseus (1999) France
- Ivan Bella – Stefanik (1999) Slovakia
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|
|Umberto Guidoni||ESA||STS-100||STS-100||Expedition 2||19 Apr 2001||1 May 2001||Flight 6A with MPLM Raffaello, visited Expedition 2 crew|
|Claudie Haigneré||CNES||Andromède||Soyuz TM-33||Soyuz TM-32||Expedition 3||21 Oct 2001||31 Oct 2001||Visited Expedition 3 crew|
|Roberto Vittori||ESA||Marco Polo||Soyuz TM-34||Soyuz TM-33||Expedition 4||25 Apr 2002||5 May 2002||Visited Expedition 4 crew|
|Philippe Perrin||CNES||STS-111||STS-111||Expedition 4/5||5 Jun 2002||19 Jun 2002||ISS Assembly Flight UF-2, launched with Expedition 5 crew and landed with Expedition 4 crew|
|Frank De Winne||ESA||Odissea||Soyuz TMA-1||Soyuz TM-34||Expedition 5||30 Oct 2002||10 Nov 2002||Visited Expedition 5 crew|
|Pedro Duque||ESA||Cervantes||Soyuz TMA-3||Soyuz TMA-2||Expedition 7/8||18 Oct 2003||28 Oct 2003||Launched with Expedition 8 crew landed with Expedition 7 crew,|
|André Kuipers||ESA||DELTA||Soyuz TMA-4||Soyuz TMA-3||Expedition 8/9||19 Apr 2004||30 Apr 2004||Launnched with Expedition 8 crew, landed with Expedition 8 crew|
|Roberto Vittori||ESA||Eneide||Soyuz TMA-6||Soyuz TMA-5||Expedition 10/11||15 Apr 2005||24 Apr 2005||Launched with Expedition 11 crew, landed with Expedition 10 crew|
|Thomas Reiter||ESA||Astrolab||STS-121||STS-116||Expedition 13/14||4 Jul 2006||22 Dec 2006||ISS Assembly Flight ULF 1.1, first European to live on the ISS as Flight Engineer on Expedition 13 and 14|
|Christer Fuglesang||ESA||Celsius||STS-116||STS-116||Expedition 14||10 Dec 2006||22 Dec 2006||ISS Assembly Flight 12A.1, visited Expedition 14 crew|
|Paolo Nespoli||ESA||Esperia||STS-120||STS-120||Expedition 16||23 Oct 2007||7 Nov 2007||ISS Assembly Flight 10A, visited Expedition 16 crew|
|Hans Schlegel||ESA||Columbus||STS-122||STS-122||Expedition 16||7 Feb 2008||20 Feb 2008||ISS Assembly Flight 1E, visited Expedition 16 crew|
|Léopold Eyharts||ESA||Columbus||STS-122||STS-123||Expedition 16||7 Feb 2008||27 Mar 2008||ISS Assembly Flight 1E, second European to live on the ISS as Flight Engineer on Expedition 16|
|Frank De Winne||ESA||OasISS||Soyuz TMA-15||Soyuz TMA-15||Expedition 20/21||27 May 2009||1 Dec 2009||Flight Engineer on Expedition 20, first European to command the ISS as commander of Expedition 21|
|Christer Fuglesang||ESA||AlISSé||STS-128||STS-128||Expedition 20||29 Aug 2009||12 Sep 2009||ISS Assembly Flight 17A, visited Expedition 20 crew|
|Paolo Nespoli||ESA||MagISStra||Soyuz TMA-20||Soyuz TMA-20||Expedition 26/27||15 Dec 2010||24 May 2011||Flight Engineer on Expedition 26 and 27|
|Roberto Vittori||ESA||DAMA||STS-134||STS-134||Expedition 27/28||16 May 2011||1 Jun 2011||Visited Expedition 27 and 28|
|André Kuipers||ESA||PromISSe||Soyuz TMA-03M||Soyuz TMA-03M||Expedition 30/31||21 Dec 2011||1 Jul 2012||Flight Engineer on Expedition 30 and 31|
|Luca Parmitano||ESA||Volare||Soyuz TMA-09M||Soyuz TMA-09M||Expedition 36/37||28 May 2013||11 Nov 2013||Flight Engineer on Expedition 36 and 37, first member of the 2009 ESA astronaut class to fly|
|Alexander Gerst||ESA||Blue Dot||Soyuz TMA-13M||Soyuz TMA-13M||Expedition 40/41||28 May 2014||10 Nov 2014||Flight Engineer on Expedition 40 and 41|
|Samantha Cristoforetti||ESA||Futura||Soyuz TMA-15M||Soyuz TMA-15M||Expedition 42/43||23 Nov 2014||11 Jun 2015||Flight Engineer on Expedition 42 and 43, Longest uninterrupted spaceflight of a European astronaut|
|Andreas Mogensen||ESA||IrISS||Soyuz TMA-18M||Soyuz TMA-16M||Expedition 44||2 Sep 2015||12 Sep 2015||Visited Expedition 44 crew, first Danish astronaut|
|Timothy Peake||ESA||Principia||Soyuz TMA-19M||Soyuz TMA-19M||Expedition 46/47||15 Dec 2015||18 June 2016||Flight Engineer on Expedition 46 and 47|
|Thomas Pesquet||ESA||Proxima||Soyuz MS-03||Soyuz MS-03||Expedition 50/51||17 Nov 2016||16 May 2017||Flight Engineer on Expedition 50 and 51|
|Paolo Nespoli||ESA||Vita||Soyuz MS-05||Soyuz MS-05||Expedition 52/53||28 July 2017||14 December 2017||Flight Engineer on Expedition 52 and 53|
|Alexander Gerst||ESA||Horizons||Soyuz MS-09||Soyuz MS-09||Expedition 56/57||6 June 2018||20 December 2018||Flight Engineer on Expedition 56, second European to command the ISS as commander of Expedition 57|
|Luca Parmitano||ESA||Beyond||Soyuz MS-13||Soyuz MS-13||Expedition 60/61||20 July 2019||6 February 2020||Flight Engineer on Expedition 60, commander of Expedition 61|
|Thomas Pesquet||ESA||Alpha||SpaceX Crew-2||Expedition 65/66|
- Canadian Astronaut Corps
- JAXA Astronaut Corps
- NASA Astronaut Corps
- List of astronauts by selection
- Human spaceflight
- History of spaceflight
- European contribution to the International Space Station
- Clark, Stephen (3 April 2008). "Europe's new cargo freighter safely docks to space station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- "Closing in on new astronauts". ESA. 24 September 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- "Astronaut selection 2021-22 FAQs". www.esa.int. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
- Positive signs for Europe as ESA goes forward to the Moon
- "European astronauts in new functions". ESA. 2 August 2019. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
- Croft, Melvin; Youskauskas, John (2019). Come Fly with Us: NASA's Payload Specialist Program. Outward Odyssey: a People's History of Spaceflight. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 61–63. ISBN 9781496212252.
- "European Manned Spaceflight Patches" (PDF). ESA. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
- "The iriss name and logos". ESA. 25 November 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- "ESA mission name for astronaut Tim Peake: Principia F". ESA. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- "Thomas Pesquet closer to space with mission name Proxima". ESA. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- "Third spaceflight for astronaut Paolo Nespoli". ESA. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
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