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Science & Exploration

N° 24–1993: Selection of ESA astronauts for Mir Precursor flights in 1994 and 1995

7 May 1993

Mr Jean-Marie Luton, Director General of ESA, has today, Friday 7 May, selected the four ESA astronauts from among whom two will be chosen to take part in the precursor flights to Mir-1 scheduled in 1994 and 1995.
They are Pedro Duque and Ulf Merbold for the ESA/Mir flight in September 1994 (mission 17), which will last 30 days, and Christer Fuglesang and Thomas Reiter for the ESA/Mir flight in August 1995 (mission 19), which will last 135 days.
This selection was made on the recommendation of the ESA European Astronaut Centre, following a series of physical and medical tests.

In August the four astronauts start on a special course of training for Mir missions at Star City, near Moscow in Russia. About eight months before each mission, the ESA Director General will nominate the astronaut chosen to fly and the back-up. The prime and back-up crews will then train in parallel. About a week before the mission, following the last in the series of medical assessments, the final crew selection will be made.
It is already planned that the ESA astronaut on the 1995 Mir mission will carry out extravehicular activities. The main objectives of these precursor flights are twofold: operational and scientific. The ESA astronauts will be able to gain and develop experience of crewed flight in preparation for the future programmes that it is currently planned to carry out in cooperation both with the Americans and with the Russians. At the same time, a number of scientific experiments, notably connected with microgravity (life sciences, human physiology and materials science), will be performed.

30-day ESA/Mir flight (mission 17) - launch in September 1994

Name: Pedro DUQUE
Date and place of birth: 14 March 1963 in Madrid, Spain

Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Madrid
Marital status: Married with one child

Prior to his selection as an ESA candidate astronaut, Mr Duque worked as a software engineer in the Flight Mechanics Group at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC, an ESA establishment) in Darmstadt, Germany, where he was in charge of orbit determination of Earth-orbiting satellites.

Name: Ulf MERBOLD Date and place of birth: 20 June 1941 in Greiz, Germany

Degree in Physics from Stuttgart University (1968), Doctorate of Science (1976)
Marital status: Married with two children

Experience: On leaving university, Mr Merbold worked at the Max Planck Institute of Metallurgical Research in Stuttgart, Germany.
In 1977 he was selected by ESA as a payload specialist for the Spacelab-1 mission (STS-9), which took place from 28 November to 8 December 1983.
This made him the first non-American astronaut to take part in a Shuttle mission. His second flight was on the Spacelab IML-1 mission (STS-42),from 22 to 30 January 1992.

135-day ESA/Mir flight (mission 19) - launch in August 1995

Name: Christer FUGLESANG Date and place of birth: 18 March 1957 in Nacka, Sweden

Master of Science in Physics, Mathematics and Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm; Doctorate in Experimental Particle Physics from Stockholm University.

Marital status: Married with two children

Experience: Mr Fuglesang worked as a graduate student in experimental particle physics at Stockholm University. In 1988 he joined the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, where he worked until 1990 as project leader on the particle sub-detector of the CPLEAR experiment. Prior to his selection, he was a research assistant at the Manne Siegbahn Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Name: Thomas REITER Date and place of birth: 23 May 1958 in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany

Dipl. Ingenieur in Aerospace and Technology from the University of the Armed Forces, Munich. Trained as a test pilot at the Military Flight Test Centre in Manching, Germany.

Marital status: Married with one child

Mr Reiter trained as a jet pilot with the United States and German Air Forces and passed out successfully from the Empire Test Pilots' School in the United Kingdom before being selected as an ESA candidate astronaut.