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First long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut onboard the International Space Station

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Old February 24th 06, 09:46 AM posted to sci.space.station,sci.space.shuttle
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Default First long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut onboard the International Space Station

N° 06-2006 - Paris, 23 February 2006

First long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut onboard the International
Space Station

ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter from Germany will soon become the first European
to undertake a long-duration mission onboard the International Space Station
following his dispatch on the next Shuttle mission (STS-121), currently
scheduled for May. That mission, which is due to last six to seven months,
will mark many important milestones for European astronauts, European
science and European control centres.

Two days after arriving, Reiter will take over as Flight Engineer 2 for the
Expedition 13 Crew. As the first European member of an Expedition Crew,
Reiter will be undertaking many vital tasks onboard; these could involve the
use of systems and procedures for ISS guidance and control, environmental
control and life-support systems, crew health & safety and Extra-Vehicular
Activity operations, to name but a few. His knowledge on EVA operations
will be called upon soon after arrival, as he is currently scheduled to
become the first European astronaut to take a spacewalk from the ISS, at the
end of May.

The arrival of Reiter at the ISS will also mark the return from a two-member
to a three-member crew. There has not been a threesome onboard since the
Columbia accident in February 2003. The other crew members - Roscosmos
cosmonaut/ISS Commander Pavel Vinogradov and NASA astronaut/ISS Flight
Engineer Jeffrey Williams - are due onboard before Reiter on 1 April on
Soyuz flight 12S. The return to a crew of three will increase the time
available for it to

carry out scientific research. For Reiter's mission, this will be the first
time that a European
scientific programme has been assembled that is tailored to a long-duration
ISS mission. That programme, drawn predominantly from scientific
institutions across Europe, will cover the areas of human physiology,
complex plasma physics and radiation dosimetry. Reiter will also be taking
part in the commissioning of ESA-developed experiment facilities: the
Pulmonary Function System, the European Microgravity Cultivation System and
the Minus 80-degrees Laboratory Freezer (MELFI). Further activities will
centre on technology demonstrations, industrial experiments and education.

On the mission control side, this will be the first use of a European
control centre for a long-duration human spaceflight mission to the ISS.
This will be based at the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen near
Munich, Germany, which will serve as the control centre for the European
Columbus Laboratory following its launch in 2007. The control centre will be
the hub of European activity during the mission, monitoring and coordinating
the activities of Reiter, coordinating with the Houston and Moscow Mission
Control Centres, with the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne and with
various User Support and Operations Centres throughout Europe. The Columbus
Control Centre, which is being run for ESA by the German Aerospace Centre
(DLR), is already supporting mission preparation and mission simulations
from its control rooms.

The added complexities and responsibilities for the ground control teams and
for Reiter in orbit herald a new era in European participation in the ISS.
This will provide Europe with invaluable experience of long-term scientific
utilisation of the Station ahead of the launch of Europe's Columbus

Reiter, who will become the first German to visit the ISS, previously served
as an ESA astronaut on the 179-day Euromir 95 mission to the Russian space
station Mir, the ISS's predecessor. He is set to make more history 30 days
after he arrives onboard, becoming the European to clock up the most time in
space, overtaking former ESA astronaut Jean-Pierre Haigneré's 209 days over
two missions (including the 189-day ESA/CNES Perseus mission to Mir in
1999). In fact, by the end of this mission, Reiter may have become one of
the select few to have spent more than a year in space.

A member of ESA's European Astronaut Corps at the European Astronaut Centre
in Cologne, Germany, Thomas Reiter has undergone an extensive training
programme in preparation for this mission at the various ISS training
facilities in Houston, Moscow and Cologne.

The same training programme has been followed by ESA astronaut Léopold
Eyharts of France, who is the back-up for the mission and likewise a member
of the Corps. Eyharts is thereby similarly prepared to perform the mission.
This training also provides excellent preparation for his tasks as prime
astronaut for a future ESA mission to the ISS in connection with the
Columbus Laboratory. He previously flew to the Russian space station Mir as
a CNES astronaut on the Pégase mission (29 January - 19 February 1998)
before joining the EAC in August 1998.

Thomas Reiter is currently scheduled to return to Earth on the STS-116
Shuttle flight in December. That flight includes ESA astronaut Christer
Fuglesang of Sweden who will be a member of the Shuttle crew on an ISS
assembly mission. With the other two Expedition 13 Crew members returning to
Earth on 24 September, Reiter will become Flight Engineer 2 with the
Expedition 14 Crew for the remainder of his mission.

This forthcoming mission is covered by an agreement between the European
Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). This covers
the ESA astronaut's flight, taking a crew slot originally planned for a
Russian cosmonaut, and is supported by a trilateral understanding between
ESA, Roscosmos and NASA

Media opportunity
Media representatives will have the opportunity to attend a press conference
with Thomas Reiter and Léopold Eyharts on the morning of 10 March (10:30 to
12:00) at ESA's European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, where the two
astronauts will undergo a one-week training session. The meeting will also
be attended by Sigmar Wittig, Chairman of the DLR Executive Board and the
ESA Council, and Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General. Media
representatives interested in taking up this opportunity are requested to
return the attached accreditation form by fax (+49 2 203 6001 112).

Due to the ongoing training schedule, individual interviews will not be

For further information, please contact:
Franco Bonacina
ESA Media Relations Division
Paris (France)
Tel: +33 1 5369 7155
Fax: +33 1 5369 7690

Jean Coisne
Astronaut Communications Officer
European Astronaut Centre
Cologne (Germany)
Tel: +49 2 203 6001 110
Fax: +49 2 203 6001 112

Dieter Isakeit
Erasmus User Centre and Communication Office
Directorate of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration Programmes
Noordwijk (The Netherlands)
Tel: +31 71 565 5451
Fax: +31 71 565 8008


Jacques :-)



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