In preparation for its new role in the training of ISS astronauts, whether European or otherwise, the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne/Germany has strengthened its management, with the appointment of two astronauts to key positions. Two experienced French astronauts have joined the European astronaut corps. A Belgian trainee is set to join in January.
Ernst Messerschmid, who flew under German colours on the Shuttle/Spacelab D-1 mission in 1985, has been appointed Head of the EAC. Since that mission, he has been a professor and director of the Institute for Space Science at Stuttgart University. At Stuttgart he occupied management positions including Dean of the Aerospace Engineering Faculty and University Vice-President. He takes up his duties on 1 January 2000.
Astronaut Jean-Pierre Haigneré, who returned from a record-breaking 188-day mission aboard the Russian Mir space station on 28 August, took up the position of Head of ESA's Astronaut Division on 1 November. With ESA astronauts scattered far apart at different locations, Haigneré will use his expertise in long-duration spaceflight and his longstanding international contacts to pull the team together and oversee training for future work aboard the ISS. A number of ESA astronauts are training at NASA, some are providing specialist support to development projects at ESTEC, while others are following regular training in Russia.
The two French astronauts, Claudie André-Deshays and Michel Tognini, joined the ESA astronaut corps on 1 November. Claudie has started work at the EAC, combining her astronaut experience with a professional medical background to specialise in crew-related medicine. Michel, resident at NASA's Johnson Space Center, is providing specialist support for the European robot arm to be launched in two years' time.
Belgian Frank De Winne is set to join the astronaut corps to start training in January. The current build-up of the corps will then be rounded off by the addition of an Italian trainee, yet to be selected, in late 2000/early 2001.
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