On 17 March 2011, Thomas Reiter, Executive Board Member responsible for Space Research and Technology at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), was appointed as the Director of Human Spaceflight at the European Space Agency (ESA) for the next four years. In addition, Volker Liebig will continue to be the Director of Earth Observation Programmes. The new Director of Human Resources and Infrastructure is Hans-Georg Mockel. He was the Chancellor of the University of Frankfurt (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt) and the Head of Corporate Development at Fraport AG for 12 years.
"Thomas Reiter has done an excellent job both as an astronaut and as a member of the DLR Executive Board, and has gained extensive experience for his new role," said Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Chairman of the Executive Board. "As Director of Human Spaceflight, he will be responsible for a subject area in which Germany is a leader in Europe: the human exploration of space." Wörner added, "Although the presence of German expertise at ESA is important, we are losing a good friend and colleague on the DLR Executive Board".
In his new role at ESA, Reiter will be responsible for astronaut training and microgravity research, as well as operations of space-based infrastructure and European satellite missions.
Pilot and astronaut
Thomas Reiter has been a member of the DLR board since 1 October 2007. Born in Frankfurt on 23 May 1958, he graduated with a degree in Aviation and Space Engineering from the University of the German Federal Armed Forces (Universität der Bundeswehr) in Neubiberg, near Munich. Apart from holding various positions in the German Air Force as pilot and commander, Reiter was a member of the development team for the Hermes manned spacecraft at ESA. In 1992 he was selected to join ESA's European Astronaut Corps. In March 1995 Reiter was assigned Flight Engineer for the 179-day Euromir 95 mission to the Russian space station, Mir.
From June 1999 to March 2000, he continued to train at the Russian Cosmonaut Training Centere in Star City for the Russian segments of the International Space Station, ISS. Between September 2001 and September 2004, he worked on the project team for the Columbus European ISS module.
From 4 July to 22 December 2006, Reiter took part in the Astrolab mission, the first European long-duration mission to the ISS. During his missions, he performed three spacewalks.
Thomas Reiter has been awarded the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz). He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in March 2009. On 28 June 2010, he received an honorary degree from the University of the German Federal Armed Forces in Neubiberg. near Munich.