German astronaut team
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The German astronaut team was established in 1987. Before the establishment of the team, then-West German astronauts were selected for single missions, or as part of the European Space Agency's manned spaceflight activities. East Germany had its first cosmonaut, Sigmund Jähn; Jähn was both West and East Germany's first citizen in space when he departed from Baikonur in the Soviet Union in August and returned to Earth in September 1978. West and East Germany reunified in 1990 and the astronaut team became representative of a single German nation.
In 1998, the team became part of the European Astronaut Corps.
In 1978, the ESA selected a first group of astronauts to fly on the Space Shuttle on Spacelab missions. Among this first group was Ulf Merbold, who then also flew the first Spacelab mission STS-9. In the second ESA selection in 1992 Thomas Reiter was selected.
The team initially consisted of 5 astronaut candidates:
For a German mission to the space station Mir, two cosmonauts were selected in 1990 (a few days after the reunification of West and East Germany), and added to the German team:
Transition to European Corps
The team began to merge with the unified ESA Astronaut Corps in 1998, when Thiele and Schlegel joined the Corps. Ewald joined in 1999. Thiele flew on space shuttle mission STS-99, and Schlegel flew his second mission STS-122 in 2008.