European Space Agency
Press Release No. 07-2007
Paris, France 13 February 2007
ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts assigned to European Columbus laboratory
mission to the ISS
ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts of France has today been assigned to fly
onboard the International Space Station for the delivery and commissioning
of the European Columbus laboratory currently planned for this autumn.
He will be a member of the Expedition 16 crew to the ISS. He is set to fly
there on Space Shuttle (Discovery) mission STS-122 and will return home with
the (Endeavour) STS-123 crew some two months later.
En route to the ISS, Eyharts will be accompanied by five NASA crewmates and
ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel of Germany, who was assigned to STS-122 last
While Eyharts will remain onboard the Station to oversee activation and
check-out of the Columbus laboratory, Schegel will take a Shuttle return
trip home 14 days after launch.
Leopold Eyharts has been a member of the European Astronaut Corps since 1998
and carried out his first-ever space mission to the Russian space station
Mir from 29 January to 19 February 1998 as a French space agency (CNES)
On this forthcoming mission, Eyharts will play a key part in the
installation, activation and commissioning of ESA’s Columbus laboratory.
Columbus is the cornerstone of Europe’s contribution to the International
Space Station and is the first-ever European laboratory devoted to long-term
research in space. Eyharts will become the first European astronaut to test
and operate in-orbit the systems of the Columbus module as well as the
European science experiments carried onboard. During his ISS mission, he
will act as flight engineer and will also support robotics activities.
Columbus will be transported to the Station in the Shuttle’s cargo bay
together with five internal rack facilities (Biolab, the Fluid Science
Laboratory, the European Physiology Module facility, the European Drawer
Rack and the European Transport Carrier). Two external experiment facilities
for Columbus (EuTEF and SOLAR) will also be travelling in the cargo bay and
will be attached onto the outside of the laboratory module during the
Note for editors
Following the launch from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in
Florida, the Shuttle will take two days to rendezvous and dock with the ISS.
The Columbus laboratory will then be unberthed from the Shuttle’s cargo bay
using Canada’s Space Station robotic arm (Canadarm 2) and mated to the
starboard-side docking port of Node 2, the European-built ISS connecting
module. Once attached, Columbus will be powered up and its payload rack
facilities will be moved from their launch configuration to their
operational locations in the module.
Four spacewalks (EVA, extra-vehicular activities) are scheduled during this
mission. The first will help install and power-up Columbus. The second EVA
will serve to install the Columbus external payloads. The third and fourth
will be devoted to various ISS maintenance tasks. Final laboratory
commissioning and activation/check-out of the science experiment racks will
take place during the weeks that follow and will be carried out by Leopold
Eyharts as a member of the resident ISS crew.
Once the European laboratory is attached, the Columbus Control Centre in
Oberpfaffenhofen/Germany, based on the premises of the DLR’s space
operations centre, will be in charge of control/operations. The Centre will
also coordinate European experiment operations.
For further information, please contact:
Media Relations Office
ESA Communication Department
Fax : +33(0)188.8.131.5290
Leopold Eyharts - Biographical summary
Born 28 April 1957, in Biarritz/France. Married, has one child. Hobbies
include jogging, mountain biking, tennis, reading and computers.
Graduated in aeronautical engineering at the French Air Force Academy of
Salon-de-Provence in 1979. Qualified as a fighter pilot in Tours in 1980 and
graduated from France’s test pilot school (EPNER) in Istres in 1988.
Decorated officer of the Legion d’Honneur, Chevalier de l’Ordre National du
Merite, awarded Medaille d’Outre-Mer, Defense Nationale (silver medal) and
Russian medals for friendship and courage.
Having graduated in aeronautical engineering and qualified as a fighter
pilot, was assigned in 1980 to an operational Jaguar A squadron in Istres
Air Force Base (France). In 1985 was appointed flight commander at
Saint-Dizier Air Force base.
Having qualified as a test pilot in 1988, was assigned to the
Bretigny-sur-Orge flight test centre near Paris, becoming chief test pilot
Leopold Eyharts has logged 3800 hours’ flying time on over 50 types of
aircraft and 21 parachute jumps including one ejection. He holds a
commission as Colonel in the French Air Force.
In 1990 he was selected to be an astronaut by the French national space
agency (CNES) and was assigned to support the Hermes spaceplane programme
managed by the Hermes Crew Office in Toulouse. He also became one of the
test pilots and engineers in charge of the CNES parabolic flight programme
(using Caravelle aircraft) and also carried out Airbus A300 zero-g
Leopold Eyharts underwent two short-duration training sessions at the Yuri
Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow in 1991 and 1993. He took part
in an evaluation of Russian Buran space shuttle training in Moscow, where he
flew in the Tupulev 154 Buran in-flight simulator.
In 1992 he was a candidate for European Space Agency astronaut selection.
In July 1994 he was assigned as back-up crew member for the Franco/Russian
Cassiopee mission, which took place in August 1996.
In December 1996 he was selected as cosmonaut for the CNES follow-on space
science mission Pegase, which took place from 29 January to 19 February
In August 1998 he joined ESA’s European Astronaut Corps, whose home base is
the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) located in Cologne/Germany. He was
assigned to train at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston/Texas and joined
the 1998 Mission Specialist Class.
Leopold Eyharts received technical assignments within NASA’s Astronaut
Office at JSC/Houston. He is currently working in the ISS Operations Branch
as a section chief for ISS systems, software and onboard information
Mission to the Russian space station Mir (29 January to 19 February 1998).
During this Franco/Russian mission Pegase, he performed various French
experiments in the area of medical research, neuroscience, biology, fluid
physics and technology.
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