The European Astronaut Corps is a unit of the European Space Agency (ESA) that selects, trains, and provides astronauts as crew members on U.S. and Russian space missions. The corps has 13 active members, able to serve on the International Space Station (ISS). The European Astronaut Corps is based at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. They can be assigned to various projects both in Europe (at ESTEC, for instance) or elsewhere in the world, at NASA Johnson Space Center or Star City.
According to French weekly Air & Cosmos, only six astronauts (Fuglesang, Schlegel, Nespoli, Eyharts, De Winne and Kuipers) remain available for immediate flight. Vittori and Clervoy are on temporary leave or assigned to other duties. The head of human spaceflight at ESA recommended that at least four more astronauts (plus four other in reserve) should be added after the launch of Columbus in February 2008.
On 3 April 2008, ESA director general Jean-Jacques Dordain announced that recruiting for a new class of European astronauts will start in the near future. The selection program for 4 new astronauts was launched on 19 May 2008 with applications due by 16 June 2008 so that final selection would be due spring 2009. Almost 10.000 people registered as astronaut candidates as of 18 June 2008. 8413 fulfilled the initial application criteria. From these 918 were chosen to take part in the first stage of psychological testing which led to 192 candidates on 24 September 2008. After two stage psychological tests 80 candidates continued on to medical evaluation in January–February 2009. 40 or so candidates head to formal interviews to select four new members to European Astronaut Corps.
The funding by NASA and Russia of the International Space Station is currently planned to end in 2030. The role of European astronauts beyond this point is unclear. Some speculation suggests ESA's involvement with NASA's Orion programme may give European astronauts a seat aboard the Orion spacecraft, although this has not been announced.
There are seven active members of the European Astronaut Corps.
||Time in space
|Samantha Cristoforetti||Italy||2009 ESA Group||199d 16h 43m||Soyuz TMA-15M (Expedition 42/43)|
|Alexander Gerst||Germany||2009 ESA Group||362d 1h 50m||Soyuz TMA-13M (Expedition 40/41), Soyuz MS-09 (Expedition 56/57)|
|Andreas Mogensen||Denmark||2009 ESA Group||9d 20h 14m||Soyuz TMA-18M/16M|
|Luca Parmitano||Italy||2009 ESA Group||366d 23h 1m||Soyuz TMA-09M (Expedition 36/37), Soyuz MS-13 (Expedition 60/61)|
|Timothy Peake||United Kingdom||2009 ESA Group||185d 22h 11m||Soyuz TMA-19M (Expedition 46/47)|
|Thomas Pesquet||France||2009 ESA Group||196d 17h 49m||Soyuz MS-03 (Expedition 50/51), Crew-2 (Expedition 64/65) (Planned)|
|Matthias Maurer||Germany||2015 ESA Group||N/A||Crew-3 (Expedition 66/67) (Planned)|
All of the current members of the corps have flown to space, except Maurer. All flown members have visited the ISS. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano is the member of the corps who has accumulated the most time in space with 366 days 23 hour and 1 minute. He is the record holder for all the European astronauts in history. The corps currently includes one woman, Samantha Cristoforetti, who formerly held the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman. Only two other women have been members of the corps. Marianne Merchez who never flew, and Claudie Haigneré who resigned after two missions to start a political career in France. The agency is expected to start recruiting another group of astronauts in early 2021.
As of August 2019[update] there were 18 former members of the ESA astronaut corps.
Some ESA astronauts were selected by other European agencies and then enrolled into the European Astronaut Corps in 1998.
||Time in space
|Hans Schlegel||Germany||1987 DLR Group||22d 18h 01m||STS-55, STS-122|
|André Kuipers||The Netherlands||1998 ESA Group||203d 15h 50m||Soyuz TMA-4/3, Soyuz TMA-03M (Expedition 30/31)|
|Christer Fuglesang||Sweden||1992 ESA Group||26d 17h 37m||STS-116, STS-128|
|Léopold Eyharts||France||1990 CNES Group||68d 21h 28m||Soyuz TM-27/26, STS-122/123 (Expedition 16)|
|Jean-François Clervoy||France||1998 ESA Group||28d 03h 04m||STS-66, STS-84, STS-103|
|Maurizio Cheli||Italy||1992 ESA Group||15d 17h 41m||STS-75|
|Pedro Duque||Spain||1992 ESA Group||18d 18h 46m||STS-95, Soyuz TMA-3/2|
|Reinhold Ewald||Germany||1990 DLR Group||19d 16h 34m||Soyuz TM-25/24|
|Umberto Guidoni||Italy||1989 ASI Group||27d 15h 10m||STS-75, STS-100|
|Claudie Haigneré née André-Deshays||France||1985 CNES Group||25d 14h 22m||Soyuz TM-24/23, Soyuz TM-33/32|
|Jean-Pierre Haigneré||France||1985 CNES Group||209d 12h 24m||Soyuz TM-17/16, Soyuz TM-29 (Mir EO-27)|
|Ulf Merbold||Germany||1978 ESA Group||49d 21h 36m||STS-9, STS-42, Soyuz TM-20/19 (Euromir 94)|
|Marianne Merchez||Belgium||1992 ESA Group||N/A||N/A|
|Ernst Messerschmid||Germany||1982 DLR Group||7d 00h 44m||STS-61-A|
|Paolo Nespoli||Italy||1998 ESA Group||313d 02h 36m||STS-120, Soyuz TMA-20 (Expedition 26/27), Soyuz MS-05 (Expedition 52/53)|
|Claude Nicollier||Switzerland||1978 ESA Group||42d 12h 03m||STS-46, STS-61, STS-75, STS-103|
|Wubbo Ockels||The Netherlands||1978 ESA Group||7d 00h 44m||STS-61-A|
|Philippe Perrin||France||1990 CNES Group||13d 20h 35m||STS-111|
|Thomas Reiter||Germany||1992 ESA Group||350d 05h 35m||Soyuz TM-22 (Mir EO-20), STS-121/116 (Expedition 13/14)|
|Gerhard Thiele||Germany||1987 DLR Group||11d 05h 38m||STS-99|
|Michel Tognini||France||1985 CNES Group||18d 17h 45m||Soyuz TM-15/14, STS-93|
|Frank de Winne||Belgium||1998 ESA Group||198d 17h 34m||Soyuz TMA-1/TM-34, Soyuz TMA-15 (Expedition 20/21)|
|Roberto Vittori||Italy||1998 ESA Group||35d 12h 26m||Soyuz TM-34/33, Soyuz TMA-6/5, STS-134|
NASA trained and flew astronauts from allied nations on the Space Shuttle, especially as payload specialists for scientific missions such as Spacelab. Prior to the foundation of the ESA astronaut corps, both the French CNES and the German DLR had selected their own rosters of astronauts, notably in preparation for the introduction of the ISS. The following people flew on various Shuttle missions.[a]
The following people flew on missions to Mir under agreements between their nations and Russia.
Astronauts from the European Astronaut Corps participated in several NASA Space Shuttle missions before the ISS era, in particular as Spacelab Payload Specialists. NASA considered the full-time ESA astronauts as payload specialists, but offered some the opportunity to train with its own astronauts and become NASA mission specialists. (This list excludes missions to Mir or the ISS)
European astronauts to have visited the ISS are:
|Astronaut||Agency||Mission||Launch||Return||Expedition||Launch Date||Return Date||Note|
|Umberto Guidoni||ESA||STS-100||STS-100||Expedition 2||19 Apr 2001||1 May 2001||Flight 6A with MPLM Raffaello, visited Expedition 2 crew|
|Claudie Haigneré||CNES||Andromède||Soyuz TM-33||Soyuz TM-32||Expedition 3||21 Oct 2001||31 Oct 2001||Visited Expedition 3 crew|
|Roberto Vittori||ESA||Marco Polo||Soyuz TM-34||Soyuz TM-33||Expedition 4||25 Apr 2002||5 May 2002||Visited Expedition 4 crew|
|Philippe Perrin||CNES||STS-111||STS-111||Expedition 4/5||5 Jun 2002||19 Jun 2002||ISS Assembly Flight UF-2, launched with Expedition 5 crew and landed with Expedition 6 crew|
|Frank De Winne||ESA||Odissea||Soyuz TMA-1||Soyuz TM-34||Expedition 5||30 Oct 2002||10 Nov 2002||Visited Expedition 5 crew|
|Pedro Duque||ESA||Cervantes||Soyuz TMA-3||Soyuz TMA-2||Expedition 7/8||18 Oct 2003||28 Oct 2003||Launched with Expedition 8 crew landed with Expedition 7 crew,|
|André Kuipers||ESA||DELTA||Soyuz TMA-4||Soyuz TMA-3||Expedition 8/9||19 Apr 2004||30 Apr 2004||Launnched with Expedition 8 crew, landed with Expedition 8 crew|
|Roberto Vittori||ESA||Eneide||Soyuz TMA-6||Soyuz TMA-5||Expedition 10/11||15 Apr 2005||24 Apr 2005||Launched with Expedition 11 crew, landed with Expedition 10 crew|
|Thomas Reiter||ESA||Astrolab||STS-121||STS-116||Expedition 13/14||4 Jul 2006||22 Dec 2006||ISS Assembly Flight ULF 1.1, first European to live on the ISS as Flight Engineer on Expedition 13 and 14|
|Christer Fuglesang||ESA||Celsius||STS-116||STS-116||Expedition 14||10 Dec 2006||22 Dec 2006||ISS Assembly Flight 12A.1, visited Expedition 14 crew|
|Paolo Nespoli||ESA||Esperia||STS-120||STS-120||Expedition 16||23 Oct 2007||7 Nov 2007||ISS Assembly Flight 10A, visited Expedition 16 crew|
|Hans Schlegel||ESA||Columbus||STS-122||STS-122||Expedition 16||7 Feb 2008||20 Feb 2008||ISS Assembly Flight 1E, visited Expedition 16 crew|
|Léopold Eyharts||ESA||Columbus||STS-122||STS-123||Expedition 16||7 Feb 2008||27 Mar 2008||ISS Assembly Flight 1E, second European to live on the ISS as Flight Engineer on Expedition 16|
|Frank De Winne||ESA||OasISS||Soyuz TMA-15||Soyuz TMA-15||Expedition 20/21||27 May 2009||1 Dec 2009||Flight Engineer on Expedition 20, first European to command the ISS as commander of Expedition 21|
|Christer Fuglesang||ESA||AlISSé||STS-128||STS-128||Expedition 20||29 Aug 2009||12 Sep 2009||ISS Assembly Flight 17A, visited Expedition 20 crew|
|Paolo Nespoli||ESA||MagISStra||Soyuz TMA-20||Soyuz TMA-20||Expedition 26/27||15 Dec 2010||24 May 2011||Flight Engineer on Expedition 26 and 27|
|Roberto Vittori||ESA||DAMA||STS-134||STS-134||Expedition 27/28||16 May 2011||1 Jun 2011||Visited Expedition 27 and 28|
|André Kuipers||ESA||PromISSe||Soyuz TMA-03M||Soyuz TMA-03M||Expedition 30/31||21 Dec 2011||1 Jul 2012||Flight Engineer on Expedition 30 and 31|
|Luca Parmitano||ESA||Volare||Soyuz TMA-09M||Soyuz TMA-09M||Expedition 36/37||28 May 2013||11 Nov 2013||Flight Engineer on Expedition 36 and 37, first member of the 2009 ESA astronaut class to fly|
|Alexander Gerst||ESA||Blue Dot||Soyuz TMA-13M||Soyuz TMA-13M||Expedition 40/41||28 May 2014||10 Nov 2014||Flight Engineer on Expedition 40 and 41|
|Samantha Cristoforetti||ESA||Futura||Soyuz TMA-15M||Soyuz TMA-15M||Expedition 42/43||23 Nov 2014||11 Jun 2015||Flight Engineer on Expedition 42 and 43, Longest uninterrupted spaceflight of a European astronaut|
|Andreas Mogensen||ESA||IrISS||Soyuz TMA-18M||Soyuz TMA-16M||Expedition 44||2 Sep 2015||12 Sep 2015||Visited Expedition 44 crew, first Danish astronaut|
|Timothy Peake||ESA||Principia||Soyuz TMA-19M||Soyuz TMA-19M||Expedition 46/47||15 Dec 2015||18 June 2016||Flight Engineer on Expedition 46 and 47|
|Thomas Pesquet||ESA||Proxima||Soyuz MS-03||Soyuz MS-03||Expedition 50/51||17 Nov 2016||16 May 2017||Flight Engineer on Expedition 50 and 51|
|Paolo Nespoli||ESA||Vita||Soyuz MS-05||Soyuz MS-05||Expedition 52/53||28 July 2017||14 December 2017||Flight Engineer on Expedition 52 and 53|
|Alexander Gerst||ESA||Horizons||Soyuz MS-09||Soyuz MS-09||Expedition 56/57||6 June 2018||20 December 2018||Flight Engineer on Expedition 56, second European to command the ISS as commander of Expedition 57|
|Luca Parmitano||ESA||Beyond||Soyuz MS-13||Soyuz MS-13||Expedition 60/61||20 July 2019||6 February 2020||Flight Engineer on Expedition 60, commander of Expedition 61|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to ESA astronauts.|