More Europeans to fly to the Space Station

Roberto Vittori, Astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA)

Andromède is the prelude to a series of future manned missions to the International Space Station for European astronauts using the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

ESA and Rosaviakosmos signed an agreement in May 2001 which paves the way for additional European missions to the Space Station using so-called ‘taxi flights’ – where crews will stay on board for up to three weeks – and long-duration increment flights for stays of between three and four months.

The agreement represents an important step in the development of operational expertise for Europe’s astronauts before intensive use of the Space Station for scientific research, Earth observation, technology development, materials science and human physiology experiments commences with the launch of the Columbus laboratory in 2004.

Some ESA member states, like Italy and Belgium, have already expressed an interest in additional missions to the Space Station. Consequently, the Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori and his Belgian colleague Frank De Winne have started training at the Russian Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow.

Vittori has been selected for a taxi flight in April 2002 and Frank De Winne is also likely to be a prime candidate for a mission in the following year.

Last update: 10 October 2001

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