ESA PR 44-2002. Claudie Haigneré, the ESA astronaut, has been appointed to the post of Minister for Research and New Technologies in the French government announced yesterday.
Claudie Haigneré, 45, with an outstanding 'cursus honoris', a doctor with a specialisation in rheumatology and a Ph.D in neurosciences, was selected in 1985 as a candidate astronaut by the French space agency, CNES. She has played a prominent role in the development of scientific applications of manned spaceflight and in fostering scientific relations with Russia. Mrs Haigneré is a permanent member of the French Academy of Technology and holds the honours of Officier de la Légion d'Honneur and Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite.
In 1999 she joined the European Astronaut Corps of the European Space Agency. She has taken part in two space missions with the Russians, 'Cassiopée' in August 1996 and 'Andromède' in October 2001. She was the first woman to qualify as a Soyuz Return Commander (July 1999), responsible for the three-person Soyuz capsule during a re-entry from space, and was the first European woman to visit the International Space Station (October 2001).
ESA's Director General, Antonio Rodotà, expressed delight at this appointment, "In our 'space world' Claudie Haigneré has demonstrated really outstanding capabilities as a scientist as well as an astronaut during her time with us. This appointment honours the European Space Agency and puts Mrs Haigneré in a key position to shape the future of Europe's science and technology. I wish her all the best in her new responsibilities."