Advanced training

After completion of the 16-month basic training course at EAC, the astronauts start to study the ISS elements in more depth.

The astronauts learn to service and operate the different modules, systems and subsystems, and to fly and dock transport vehicles like the Russian manned 'Soyuz' vessel or ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), an unmanned cargo carrier.

They also learn how to perform scientific experiments in ESA's ISS research module, Columbus, and many other aspects which are important for a flight to the ISS.

The ISS Advanced Training takes around one year to complete. It is conducted in international astronaut classes and includes various training units at all ISS partner training sites.

André Kuipers trains inside a full-sized ISS modelAccess the image

The training centres are located at Houston, in the United States (NASA), Star City near Moscow (Russia), Tsukuba near Tokyo (Japan), Montreal (Canada) and at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany.

Each of the partners is in charge of providing training to all ISS astronauts on the elements which they contribute to the ISS Programme. For example, training at EAC focuses on the Columbus system, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and ESA experiment training.

Whereas basic training is often knowledge-based classroom training, advanced training is mainly 'hands-on' using flight-like training mock-ups and simulators. Advanced training is also generic, which means that the astronauts learn about systems which are important for any flight to ISS.

Only once an astronaut completes this phase of training is s/he eligible for assignment to a spaceflight.

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