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Science & Exploration

N° 16–1994: Ulf Merbold selected as ESA Astronaut for EUROMIR 94

30 May 1994

ESA's Director General, Mr. Jean-Marie Luton has announced today, Monday 30 May 1994, during a press conference at the ILA'94 Berlin Airshow the selection of Ulf Merbold as member of the Crew scheduled to fly for the EUROMIR 94 mission in October this year.

Following a preparatory phase at the ESA's Astronauts Centre (EAC) in Cologne (Germany) and the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre (ZPK) near Moscow (Russia), Pedro Duque and Ulf Merbold had been selected in January this year to train for the EUROMIR 94 flight, while Christer Fuglesang and Thomas Reiter are preparing for the EUROMIR 95 mission (see Press Release Nr.02-94 and Information Note Nr.02-94).

The 30 days EUROMIR 94 mission is scheduled for launch on 3 October 1994 and will carry on-board the Russian Space Station MIR about 30 experiments of scientists from ESA Member States.

With ESA astronaut Ulf Merbold, the Russian cosmonauts for this EUROMIR 94 mission are Mr. Aleksandr Viktorenko, Commander (who will be thus doing his fourth flight on-board the MIR station) and Mrs. Elena Kondakova, Engineer. The second crew, which was trained in parallel and ready to fly in case of problems with a member of the first one, is composed of ESA astronaut Pedro Duque and cosmonauts J. Gidsenko and S. Avdejew.

About 3 weeks before the launch, the flight readiness of both crews will be assessed and "prime and back-up" crews nominated.

The ESA astronaut on-board the MIR station will act as "Research Cosmonaut", fully responsible for the experimental programme and for selected tasks to be performed on some systems of Soyuz and MIR. He will be involved in the final mission preparation, mission execution and post mission activities. The back-up ESA astronaut will also have an active role in the experimental programme by insuring communication flow and experiment performance as Crew Interface Coordinator at the Mission Control Centre in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Ulf Merbold has already flown twice as ESA astronaut with the Space Shuttle (STS-9/Spacelab-1 in 1983 and STS-42/IML-1 in 1992). Moreover, he has supported two Shuttle missions from the ground: in 1984 as Back-up Payload Specialist and Crew Interface Coordinator during D-1; in 1993 as Science Coordinator of D-2.

Pedro Duque was selected by the European Space Agency in 1992. After completion of his basic training at the European Astronaut Centre and at the Cosmonauts Training Centre in Star City, he was certified as European Astronaut in December 1993.