Today, at the European Space Agency Moscow office, Mr Antonio Rodotà, ESA
Director General, Mr Charles Picqué, Belgian Minister for Scientific
Research, Mr Yvan Ylieff, Belgian Commissioner in charge of Scientific
Policy, Mr Yuri Koptev of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency
(Rosaviakosmos), and Mr Yuri Semonov of the Korolev Rocket Space
Corporation Energia (RSC Energia), signed the contract for implementation
of a flight to the International Space Station for ESA astronaut, Frank De
Winne, of Belgian nationality.

Frank De Winne will be flight engineer on a Soyuz “taxi flight” in October
this year, an 8 to 10-day mission to the Space Station funded by the
Belgian Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs
(OSTC). The main purposes of the mission will be to exchange the Station’s
Soyuz vehicle, which serves as the main emergency rescue craft for the
Station’s crew, and to carry out an important scientific experiment
programme and promote valuable international cooperation.

This flight is further evidence of the strengthening cooperation between
Europe and Russia. It is one of the outcomes of a framework agreement for
European astronauts to fly to the ISS on Russian launchers during the
period 2001 to 2006 signed between ESA and Rosaviakosmos in May 2001.

“For the second time in only a few months, after next week’s flight by ESA
astronaut Roberto Vittori, from Italy”, said ESA Director General Antonio
Rodotà, “an ESA astronaut will fly to the International Space Station, to
continue strengthening our relations with our international partners,
Russia in particular, and to carry out an outstanding programme for the
European scientific community”.

Frank De Winne is the second Belgian astronaut to be assigned to a space
mission: the first, Dirk Frimout, flew as payload specialist on a Space
Shuttle mission, STS-45, in March-April 1992.

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Office

Franco Bonacina

Tel: +33 (0)

Fax: +33 (0)

Cabinet of the Minister for Scientific Research – Brussels

Sophie Goeminne

Tel: +32 (0) 2.506.5753

Fax: +32 (0) 2.513.0450