European Space Agency astronaut from Germany chosen for next space station mission

A German will become the first European Space Agency astronaut to take part in a six-month stint on the international space station, the Russian Space Agency said Wednesday.

Thomas Reiter, 46, will take part in Expedition 11 in July and complete his mission to the orbiting space station when Expedition 12 is on board, the agency said in statement.

Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Russian Space Agency, signed a contract with the ESA making Reiter part of the main crew. He will work both on research programs and maintain the station with other crew members.

The station had been limited to two full-time residents since the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003, prompting NASA to immediately suspend flights. The agency hopes to resume the flights next month.

Russia's cash-strapped space program has worked closely with the ESA, carrying its astronauts on research missions to the orbiting station.


On the photo: Thomas Reiter

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