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Science & Exploration

N° 35–1998: European Space Agency (ESA) recruits new astronaut

5 October 1998

The Director General of ESA, Antonio Rodotà, together with the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Annemarie Jorritsma, announced Europe's newest astronaut, André Kuipers, today at Space Expo in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

André Kuipers (40), a medical doctor from Amsterdam, joins the other astronauts that make up the European corps. He will begin training around mid-1999 to qualify for future missions onboard the International Space Station.

Kuipers is a specialist in space-related medical research. Since 1991, he has participated in the preparation, data collection and ground control of physiological experiments developed by ESA for flight on board the US Space Shuttle, the Russian Mir space station and, in the future, on the International Space Station.

He also coordinates the life-science experiments for ESA parabolic flight campaigns and takes part as an experimenter, test subject and flight surgeon.

Kuipers is the second Dutch astronaut. The first one, Wubbo Ockels, was recruited in 1977 and flew on the Spacelab D-1 mission in 1985 with the US Space Shuttle.

ESA is in the process of creating one single European astronaut corps by merging existing national astronaut programmes with the ESA programme. A number of new astronauts are also being selected. The objective is to have a total of 16 astronauts by mid-2000 in order to be able to meet the demand for European astronauts foreseen in the coming years as the International Space Station is being built and research onboard gest underway. Presently, the European corps comprises 12 astronauts: Jean-François Clervoy, Leopold Eyharts, Jean-Pierre Haigneré (France); Thomas Reiter, Hans Schlegel, Gerhard Thiele (Germany); Umberto Guidoni, Paolo Nespoli, Roberto Vittori (Italy); Pedro Duque (Spain); Christer Fuglesang (Sweden); and Claude Nicollier (Switzerland). Their home base is the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

For further information, see the following Web pages: -
European Astronaut Centre: -
International Space Station: - ESA in general:



BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 5 October 1958. EDUCATION: André Kuipers graduated from van der Waals Lyceum, Amsterdam, in 1977 and received a Medical Doctor degree from the University of Amsterdam in 1987.

FAMILY: Two daughters.

RECREATIONAL INTERESTS: Scuba-diving, skiing, flying, history, travelling.

EXPERIENCE: During his medical studies, André Kuipers worked in the Vestibular department of the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where he was involved in research on the equilibrium system.

In 1987 and 1988, as an officer of the Royal Netherlands Airforce Medical Corps, he studied accidents and near-accidents caused by spatial disorientation of pilots of high-performance aircraft.

In 1989 and 1990, he worked for the Research and Development department of the Netherlands Aerospace Medical Centre in Soesterberg. He was involved in research on the Space Adaptation Syndrome, contact lenses for pilots, vestibular apparatus, blood pressure and cerebral blood flow. In addition, he performed medical examinations of pilots and medical monitoring of human centrifuge training, and lectured pilots. Since 1991, Kuipers has been involved in the preparation, coordination, baseline data collection and ground control of physiological experiments developed by the European Space Agency for space missions. In particular he was a project scientist for the Anthrorack, a human physiology facility that flew on the D-2 Spacelab mission in 1993, and for two payloads, for lung and bone physiology, that flew on board the Mir space station during the half-year Euromir 95 mission. He was then involved in the development of the Torque Velocity Dynamometer that flew on the LMS Spacelab mission in 1996.

He is coordinating the life science experiments for the ESA parabolic flight campaigns and participates in flights as an experiment operator, test subject and flight surgeon.

CURRENT SITUATION: André Kuipers is a project scientist for several ESA human physiology payloads, both in the development and in the operational phase. He is coordinating the scientific input for the development of the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System and the Percutaneous Electrical Muscle Stimulator, both to be flown on the International Space Station. He is also coordinating experiments for the Advanced Respiratory Monitoring System, which will fly in 2000 on the US Space Shuttle mission STS-107. October 1998