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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 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 2009Edit

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[citation needed] 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 CorpsEdit

After the ISSEdit

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 membersEdit

There are thirteen active members of the European Astronaut Corps.

Time in space
Jean-François Clervoy     France 1992 ESA Group 28d 03h 05m STS-66, STS-84, STS-103
Samantha Cristoforetti     Italy 2009 ESA Group 199d 16h 43m Soyuz TMA-15M, (Expedition 42/43)
Léopold Eyharts     France 1998 ESA Group 68d 21h 31m Soyuz TM-27, Soyuz TM-26, STS-122, Expedition 16, STS-123
Christer Fuglesang     Sweden 1992 ESA Group 26d 17h 38m STS-116, STS-128
Alexander Gerst     Germany 2009 ESA Group 362d 1h 50m Soyuz TMA-13M (Expedition 40/41), Soyuz MS-09 (Expedition 56/57)
André Kuipers     Netherlands 1998 ESA Group 203d 15h 51m Soyuz TMA-4, Soyuz TMA-3, Soyuz TMA-03M, (Expedition 30, 31)
Andreas Mogensen     Denmark 2009 ESA Group 9d 20h 14m Soyuz TMA-18M/Soyuz TMA-16M
Luca Parmitano     Italy 2009 ESA Group 166d 6h 19m Soyuz TMA-09M, (Expedition 36/37), Planned :Soyuz MS-13, Expedition 60/61[3]
Timothy Peake     United Kingdom 2009 ESA Group 185d 22h 11m Soyuz TMA-19M (Expedition 46/47)
Thomas Pesquet     France 2009 ESA Group 196d 17h 49m Soyuz MS-03 (Expedition 50/51)
Hans Schlegel     Germany 1998 ESA Group 22d 18h 02m STS-55, STS-122
Roberto Vittori     Italy 1998 ESA Group 35d 12h 26m Soyuz TM-34, Soyuz TM-33, Soyuz TMA-6, Soyuz TMA-5, STS-134
Matthias Maurer     Germany 2015 ESA Astronaut Corps No flight No missions

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. German astronaut Alexander Gerst is the member of the corps who has accumulated the most time in space with 362 days 1 hour and 50 minutes. He is the record holder for all the European astronauts in history. 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 membersEdit

Non-ESA European astronauts/cosmonauts (excluding Russians)Edit

Space Shuttle missionsEdit

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 SpecialistsEdit

As Mission SpecialistsEdit

Missions to the Mir space stationsEdit

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 StationEdit

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 6 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 67 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[6] 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[7] 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[8] Soyuz MS-03 Soyuz MS-03 Expedition 50/51 17 Nov 2016 16 May 2017 Flight Engineer on Expedition 50 and 51
    Paolo Nespoli[9] 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 February 2020 (Planned) Flight Engineer on Expedition 60, commander of Expedition 61

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Clark, Stephen (3 April 2008). "Europe's new cargo freighter safely docks to space station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Closing in on new astronauts". ESA. 24 September 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  3. ^ "ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano to be Space Station commander on his next flight". ESA. May 31, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  4. ^ "European astronauts in new functions". ESA. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  5. ^ "European Manned Spaceflight Patches" (PDF). ESA. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  6. ^ "The iriss name and logos". ESA. 25 November 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  7. ^ "ESA mission name for astronaut Tim Peake: Principia F". ESA. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Thomas Pesquet closer to space with mission name Proxima". ESA. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Third spaceflight for astronaut Paolo Nespoli". ESA. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2016.

External linksEdit