At the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, USA, on 18 April ESA signed a letter of intent with the Swedish National Space Agency to send an ESA astronaut to visit the International Space Station on an Axiom mission.

The flight and the name of the astronauts assigned to the mission will need to be approved by the partners of the International Space Station as well as the commercial flight operator Axiom.

ESA’s Director General, Josef Aschbacher, said after signing the letter of intent, “The ESA Astronaut Policy was developed for exactly these opportunities, flying on commercial flights in partnership as we transition Europe’s access to space and diversify the space market.

“I hope to see more Europeans inside ESA’s space laboratory Columbus on the International Space Station soon.”

The intent is to send an ESA astronaut who would fly with Axiom as a project astronaut and start training at ESA’s astronaut centre for the flight, with an ambitious scientific and educational programme for his 10-day stay aboard the International Space Station developed by ESA and the Swedish National Space Agency.

ESA would be the crew provider for this mission, and will sign an agreement with Axiom to define and implement the mission and will prepare for the mission providing all the operational support needed for such a flight. The Swedish National Space Agency will negotiate directly with Axiom for the flight.

In November last year ESA has announced career and reserve astronauts as well as a para-astronaut at the ESA Council at Ministerial Level.

ESA’s five career astronauts started training last month at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany.

The Swedish National Space Agency represents Sweden at ESA and the majority of the Swedish Space budget is invested in ESA programmes. Being a member of ESA provides Swedish scientists and industry access to space technology advanced international space projects.

ESA, the Swedish National Space Agency, and the Government of Sweden will host a press event with more details on the mission and assignment at a later date once the astronaut is confirmed by the international ISS partners and Axiom.

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About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia are Associate Members.

ESA has established formal cooperation with four Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions.

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