ESA astronaut Frank De Winne (*), a Belgian member of the European
Astronaut Corps, has been assigned to fly to the International Space
Station (ISS) in November 2002 on a Russian Soyuz launcher. He will be
flight engineer on a “taxi flight”, a 10-day mission with the main purpose
of exchanging the Soyuz capsule, which is permanently docked with the
Station to serve as a rescue vehicle, if needed.

A substantial scientific experimental programme will also be conducted
during the mission, including experiments led by Belgian scientists.

This assignment is one of the results of the agreement for European
astronauts to fly to the ISS on Russian Soyuz launchers during the period
2001 to 2006, signed by ESA Director General Antonio Rodotý and the
Director General of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos),
Yuri Koptev, early this year. The mission is receiving strong support from
the Belgian government, and in particular from the Commissioner for
scientific policy, Yvan Ylieff.

The agreement, which also makes provision for “increment flights”, crew
exchange flights which may require the astronauts to stay on board the
Station for up to 3-4 months, is an important step in the development of
operational expertise by the European Astronaut Corps before commencing
intensive utilisation of the ISS for scientific research, Earth
observation, technology development, materials science and human
physiology experiments, with the launch of ESA’s Columbus laboratory in

Frank De Winne is the second Belgian astronaut to be assigned to a space
mission: the first, Dirk Frimout, flew as payload specialist on the
American Space Shuttle mission ATLAS-1 in March/April 1992.

For further information, please contact :

ESA/European Astronaut Centre – Cologne

Jean Coisne

Tel: +49.2203.6001.110/111

Fax: +49.2203.6001.112

Cabinet of the Minister for Scientific Research – Brussels

Emmanuelle Courtheoux

Tel: +32.2.506.57.64

GSM +32.476.63.9908

( *) Personal data

Born in Ghent, Belgium, 25 April 1961, Frank is married and has three
children. He enjoys football, small PC applications and gastronomy.

Frank De Winne graduated from the Royal School of Cadets, Lier, in 1979.
He received a Masters degree in telecommunications and civil engineering
from the Royal Military Academy, Brussels, in 1984. He was awarded the AIA
Prize for the best thesis. In 1991, he completed the Staff Course at the
Defence College, in Brussels gaining the highest distinction. In 1992, he
graduated from the Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS) in Boscombe Down,
England, where he was awarded the McKenna Trophy.


Member of the Belgian Armed Forces Flying Personnel Association.
Special honours

In 1977 Frank was the first non-American pilot to receive the Joe Bill
Dryden Semper Viper Award for demonstrating exceptional skills during a
flight. In July 1999 he was appointed ‘Officier in de Orde van Oranje
Nassau’ by the Dutch Queen for shown leadership during operation Allied


After completing his pilot training with the Belgian Air Force, in 1986,
Frank De Winne was an operational pilot on Mirage V aircraft. Detached to
the Company SAGEM in Paris in 1989, he then worked in the Mirage Safety
Improvement Programme where he was responsible for the preparation of the
operational and technical specifications of the Mirage upgrade programme.

In December 1992, he was appointed to the Test and Evaluation branch of
the Belgian Air Force. As a test pilot, he was involved in various
activities, such as CARAPACE (an electronic warfare programme on F16) at
Eglin Air Force Base, USA, and a Self-Protection Programme for the C130
aircraft. During that period, he also flew in Gosselies as a reception
pilot in different aircraft types.

From January 1994 to April 1995, Frank De Winne was responsible for the
flight safety programme of the 1st Fighter Wing at Beauvechain, Belgium.

From April 1995 to July 1996, as a senior test pilot in the European
Participating Air Forces (EPAF), he was detached to Edwards Air Force
Base, California, where he worked on the mid-life update of the F16
aircraft, focusing on radar testing.

From 1996 to August 1998, he was senior test pilot in the Belgian Air
Force, responsible for all test programmes and for all pilot-vehicle
interfaces for future aircraft/software updates.

From August 1998 to January 2000, Frank De Winne was the Squadron
Commander of the 349th Fighter Squadron at Kleine Brogel Airbase, Belgium.

During operation Allied Force, Frank De Winne was the detachment commander
of the Deployable Air Task Force, a combined Belgian/Dutch detachment that
flew about 2000 sorties during this Nato campaign. He has logged 17 combat

Frank De Winne has logged more than 2300 hours flying time on several
types of high-performance aircraft including Mirage, F16, Jaguar and

In January 2000, Frank De Winne joined the European Astronaut Corps of the
European Space Agency (ESA), whose homebase is the European Astronaut
Centre in Cologne, Germany.

Current assignment

In August 2001, De Winne took up training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut
Training Centre (GCTC), Star City, near Moscow. Training includes elements
of Basic Training for the International Space Station as well as training
as Soyuz flight engineer.