30. November 2018
35 years ago: Ulf Merbold was the first ESA astronaut to fly in space and the first non-American to fly on the Space Shuttle.
Ulf Merbold flew on STS-9 (28 November to 8 December 1983) and became the first non-American to fly on a Space Shuttle mission. The primary objective of this mission was the verification of Spacelab in orbit and the execution of 72 highly sophisticated scientific experiments. He was ESA’s Payload Specialist on STS-42 (22 January – 31 January 1992), the International Microgravity Laboratory mission (IML-1) on the Space Shuttle. As a member of the payload crew he was primarily responsible for the 55 scientific experiments on the flight. Merbold was selected to fly with ESA’s Euromir 94 mission (3 October – 4 November 1994) to the Russian Space Station MIR. He was the first ESA astronaut to fly on a Russian mission and performed a 32-day mission as Research Cosmonaut. He was responsible for the execution of 28 European experiments.
The opening image shows Payload Specialist Ulf Merbold working on the Gradient Heating Facility on the Materials Science Double Rack (MSDR) inside Spacelab in the Shuttle Orbiter Columbia’s payload bay during STS-9/ Spacelab-1. Spacelab-1, the joint ESA/NASA mission, was the first operational flight for Spacelab, and demonstrated new instruments and methods for conducting experiments that are difficult or impossible in ground-based laboratories. This facility performed, in extremely low gravity, a wide variety of materials processing experiments in crystal growth, fluid physics and metallurgy. Image: NASA
Born in Greiz, Germany, 20 June 1941 Ulf is married and has two children. He enjoys skiing, glider flying and piano playing.