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European to become commander of space station in 2009

Born in Ghent, Belgium, 25 April 1961. He is married and has three children. 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.
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Nov 20, 2008
The International Space Station (ISS) next year will be commanded for the first time by a European, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced here on Friday.

Belgian astronaut Frank de Winne will be taken aloft next May aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, along with Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and Canadia's Robert Thirsk, taking the ISS's full-time crew from three to six, ESA said in a press release.

For the first few months, de Winne will serve as the ISS' flight engineer, then take its helm in October when a turnover of three crewmembers is scheduled, it said in a press release. He returns to Earth in November 2009.

De Winne previously went to the ISS on a 12-day mission in 2002.

"This is another symbolic first for Europe," said ESA's director of human spaceflight, Simonetta di Pippo.

"It is a proud day for the Agency and clearly demonstrates that the ISS programme and its international partners honour the professionalism and the capabilities of our ESA astronauts."

On Thursday, the ISS marked the 10th anniversary since the first piece in the modular construction project was placed in orbit.

The ISS is one of the most ambitious space projects ever.

Its supporters say the experience gained in building and operating it will be vital for resuming manned flights to the Moon and later venturing to Mars.

The United States has financed the bulk of the project, estimated to cost some 100 billion dollars. Fifteen other countries have made contributions, including Russia, Japan, Canada, Brazil and 11 European nations.

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Endeavour astronauts work on repairs on third spacewalk
Washington (AFP) Nov 22, 2008
Two astronauts on the US space shuttle Endeavour completed a seven-hour spacewalk Saturday, in the mission's third scheduled spacewalk to repair the orbiting International Space Station.

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