German ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter, a flight engineer on the Expedition 13 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS), photographed during his extra-vehicular activity (EVA) on 3 August 2006, performed together with NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (not in the picture). The EVA lasted for a total of 5 hours and 54 minutes.
"It was only when I removed my helmet that I noticed that something was different – it floated as soon as I let go of it. We had arrived in orbit," wrote astronaut Gerhard Thiele in his logbook when he flew on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission in February 2000. Astronaut Thomas Reiter was also full of enthusiasm once he had completed his extra-vehicular activity: "Anyone working on a space station is naturally happy to be able to work outside it. I could never have hoped to be closer to the Universe. One works outside the space station, travelling at 28,000 kilometres per hour, and is offered a view that is not available through a window; this is an overwhelming experience and an almost indescribable feeling."
Eleven Germans have experienced zero gravity to date as astronauts and cosmonauts. Many experience it on a single flight, others on several; Thomas Reiter can look back at two long-term missions with the longest stay in space for a German and Ulf Merbold has been the most German frequent visitor to orbit, with three missions in eleven years. Not everyone who joins the astronaut corps actually makes it into space – Eberhard Köllner, Renate Brümmer and Heike Walpot remained on the ground as backup astronauts. Alexander Gerst is the most recent German addition to the astronaut corps, joining in 2009.
German astronauts and their missions
Last modified:21/07/2015 15:22:41