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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
German astronaut books long stay
Thomas Reiter (AP)
Thomas Reiter is a Mir veteran
The first European Space Agency (Esa) astronaut to be a six-month resident crewmember on the International Space Station (ISS) will be a German.

Thomas Reiter, 46, will be part of the Expedition 11 team later this year.

Until now, Esa astronauts have only made brief trips to the platform of a little over a week - like Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori.

He has just returned from the ISS having conducted a series of 22 experiments in microgravity.

Thomas Reiter is a veteran of spaceflight.

He spent 179 days onboard the Russian space station Mir in the '90s (3 September 1995 until 29 February 1996).

He performed some 40 European scientific experiments and participated in the maintenance of the platform. He also carried out two spacewalks.

Trained as a fighter pilot with the German armed forces, he has an MSc in aerospace technology.

His attachment to the ISS will depend on the successful return to flight of the US space shuttle.

If all goes well with the Discovery orbiter's mission to the international platform next month, Reiter could go up on the next flight - bringing resident crews on the station back up to three individuals.

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