On Wednesday 7 July 1993, with its signature by Yuri Semenov, Director General of NPO Energia, and Fredrik Engstr.m, Director of Space Station and Microgravity at ESA, the agreement between ESA and NPO Energia concerning the missions to be undertaken by European astronauts on board the Mir space station in 1994 and 1995 was concluded.
This contractual agreement is the first practical expression of cooperation between ESA and Russia in the field of crewed spaceflight. Four ESA astronauts (see ESA press release Nr 24-93), Pedro Duque, Christer Fuglesang, Ulf Merbold and Thomas Reiter, will now be setting off for Star City near Moscow to begin training.
The first mission will last 20 days and will take place in September 1994, while the second 135-day mission will begin in August 1995.
The contract is worth 45 million ECU and covers astronaut training, all mission preparations, integration of the equipment and experiments to be flown and post-flight follow-up and processing of data.
Welcoming signature of the contract, Mr Engstr.m had the following comment: "We have now embarked on crewed spaceflight with the Russians. I have no doubt that the operational experience and scientific results that will be acquired in the course of these missions will enable ESA to strengthen its role in future crewed flight programmes, whether they be in cooperation with other partners or purely European".