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First long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut onboard the ISS

ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter from Germany will soon become the first European to undertake a long-duration mission onboard the International Space Station (ISS) 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 Europea
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Contact: ESA Media Relations Office
media@esa.int
33-153-697-155
European Space Agency
23-Feb-2006


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