German astronaut team
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The German astronaut team was established in 1987. Before the establishment of the team German astronauts were selected for single missions, or as part of the European Space Agency's manned spaceflight activities.
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 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, 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 Shlegel 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.