Dr Ulf Merbold is one of the few European astronauts, having spent more than 50 days in space. When the spacecraft “Columbia” lifted off from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Ulf Merbold was on board as a science astronaut and was the first German to take part in the American Space Mission. The intensive preparation and training for the mission took six years.
Ufl Merbold studied Physics in Stuttgart and upon completing his degree he worked at the Max Planck Institute for Materials Research in Stuttgart. In 1978 he was named as one of the three ESA (European Space Agency) Spacelab specialists on board the Space Shuttle.
In the subsequent years Ulf Merbold was involved in numerous projects. In 1983 he was the only non-American member of the Space Transport Team on the STS-9 mission, which tested the effectiveness of Spacelab. In 1984 he was part of the Spacelab Mission D-1. Ulf Merbold made an important contribution to the planning of the European participation in the international space station Columbus.
In 1994 he was the first ESA astronaut to join the Russian Soyuz mission on the MIR space station, and spent 32 days at the station, his longest period in space.
Since 1995 Ulf Merbold has been head of the Astronaut Division of the ESA in Cologne. Due to age restrictions, he left the agency in 2004, but he still assists in an advisory capacity. His scientific interests and his challenging space missions have made him a much sought-after speaker at conferences and events.
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