First Swedish astronaut to fly to International Space Station in 2003
ESA PR 9-2002. European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang will fly on a Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station in spring 2003. During that flight, he will conduct three Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs) or 'spacewalks' to attach new hardware to the Space Station. He will become the first Swede to travel and walk in space.
Fuglesang will join the STS-116 crew for an important space flight. One of the major objectives of the mission will be to add new segments to the Space Station's truss and to carry the Expedition Eight crew to the Space Station, returning the three astronauts of Expedition 7 back to Earth. The mission should include several 'spacewalks' (Extra Vehicular Activity), demonstrating once again the skills and professionalism of the European astronauts, and in particular of Fuglesang who trained during many years at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City and at NASA Johnson Space Centre.
The presence of Fuglesang will be of high value for the achievement, together with the colleagues of the STS-116 crew, of the important goals of this mission to the International Space Station, to which Europe is contributing significantly.
Fuglesang, who holds a Ph.D. in particle physics, was selected for the European Astronaut Corps in 1992. In 1993, he began training at Star City, outside Moscow, for the ESA-Russian Euromir 95 mission aboard the Russian Mir space station. In 1995, he was selected as the prime crew interface coordinator for the six-month long Euromir 95 flight. In that role, he provided the main ground contact with fellow ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter on board Mir and acted as coordinator between Mir and the Payload Operations Control Centre in Germany and project management.
In 1996, Fuglesang moved to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to undertake Mission Specialist training. He completed that course and became qualified for flight assignment in 1998. Later that year, he returned to Russia for training, becoming qualified as a Soyuz return commander which enables him to command a Soyuz capsule on its return from space. He is one of only a few non-Russians to hold that qualification.
He returned to Houston in late 1998 and has since been working with the NASA Astronaut Office various technical assignments that draw on his indepth knowledge of Russian systems and operations.
ESA, representing 10 European countries, together with the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada, are partners in the International Space Station.