The European Astronaut Corps
is the group of astronauts of European Space Agency
. There are currently eight active members of the Corps, all men. 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 eight astronauts in the corps.
All members of the corps have flown in space. The last one to do so was Paolo Nespoli who was assigned to Space Shuttle mission STS-120, which was launched in October 2007. All members, except Jean-François Clervoy, have visited the ISS.
Eyharts is the member of the Corps who has spent the most time in space, more than 69 days, the European record belonging to former German astronaut Thomas Reiter with 350 days.
The youngest member of the corps is Roberto Vittori, born in 1964, while the oldest is Hans Schlegel, born in 1951. The Corps currently includes no woman, being an all white males group. Only two 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 participation is that Léopold Eyharts belongs to the Basque ethnic group in France.
Future of the European Astronaut Corps
Selection of new astronauts
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.. The selection program for 4 new astonauts was launched on May 19, 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 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.
After the ISS
The funding by NASA of the International Space Station
is scheduled to end in 2015. The role and activities of European astronauts beyond this date, and in particular their involvement in the Vision for Space Exploration
, including missions to the Lunar outpost
, is unclear.
There are fourteen former astronauts of the ESA
* No space missions
Non ESA European Astronauts
Warsaw Pact Astronauts
Western Europe Astronauts
Astronauts from the European Astronaut Corps have participated to various missions before the ISS era, in particular in the frame of Spacelab, as Payload Specialists
As Payload Specialists
As Mission Specialists
Missions on space stations
Astronauts from the European astronaut Corps have also flown to Mir
both on board Soyuz vehicles or on board the Space Shuttle.
- Ulf Merbold - Euromir 94 - Soyuz TM-20 - 03.10. - 04.11.1994
- Thomas Reiter - Euromir 95 - Soyuz TM-22 - 03.09.1995 - 29.02.1996
- Jean-François Clervoy - STS-84
ESA astronauts to have visited the ISS are:
- Guidoni, ESA, 9th ISS flight (6A) MPLM Raffaello, STS-100/ISS
- Vittori, ASI Eneide, Soyuz/ISS
- Vittori, ASI Marco Polo, Soyuz/ISS
- Claudie Haigneré, CNES Andromède, Soyuz/ISS
- Perrin , NASA/CNES, ISS assembly flight UF-2, STS-111/ISS
- De Winne, ESA, Odissea, Soyuz/ISS
- Duque, ESA, Cervantes, Soyuz/ISS
- Kuipers, ESA, DELTA Mission, 8S/ISS
- Reiter, ESA Astrolab, ISS assembly flight ULF 1.1, STS-121/ISS, Expedition 13
- Fuglesang, ESA Celsius, ISS assembly flight 12A.1, STS-116/ISS
- Nespoli, ESA Esperia, ISS assembly flight 10A, STS-120/ISS
- Schlegel, ISS assembly flight 1E, STS-122/ISS
- Eyharts, STS-122/ISS, Expedition 16
Back-up crew members