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Frank De Winne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Viscount De Winne
Born (1961-04-25) 25 April 1961 (age 63)
Ghent, Belgium
OccupationTest Pilot
Space career
ESA astronaut
RankBrigadier General, BAF
Time in space
198d 17h 34min[1]
Selection1998 ESA Group
MissionsSoyuz TMA-1/TM-34, Soyuz TMA-15 (Expedition 20/21)
Mission insignia

Frank, Viscount De Winne (born 25 April 1961, in Ledeberg, Belgium) is a Belgian Air Component officer and an ESA astronaut. He is Belgium's second person in space (after Dirk Frimout). He was the first ESA astronaut to command a space mission when he served as commander of ISS Expedition 21. ESA astronaut de Winne serves currently as Head of the European Astronaut Centre of the European Space Agency in Cologne/Germany (Köln).



De Winne graduated in 1979 from the Royal School of Cadets in Lier. In 1984, he graduated from the Royal Military Academy with the degree of Master of Sciences in Engineering (Polytechnics).[2]

Military career


De Winne followed the elementary flying school of the Belgian Air Component at Goetsenhoven. After graduating he flew Dassault Mirage 5 airplanes for the Air Force until he was attached to SAGEM in Paris to work on the safety of the Mirage. In 1991, De Winne completed the Staff Course at the Defence College in Brussels with the highest distinction. In 1992, De Winne received his degree as test pilot from the British Empire Test Pilots' School in Boscombe Down, receiving the McKenna Trophy as well.[2]

From December 1992, Major of Royal Belgian Air Component De Winne operated as a test pilot for the Belgian Air Force. From January 1994 until April 1995, he was responsible for flight safety of the 1st Fighter Wing operating from Beauvechain air base. From April 1995 to July 1996, he was attached as senior test pilot to the European Participating Air Forces at Edwards Air Force Base in California where he worked on the mid-life update of the F-16 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.[2]

On 12 February 1997 De Winne encountered engine problems while flying in an F-16 Fighting Falcon over densely populated area near Leeuwarden. After the onboard computer failed, De Winne was faced with the choice of crashing in the IJsselmeer or of ejecting over densely populated area. However, De Winne was able to land his crippled plane at Leeuwarden air base, a feat which earned him the Joe Bill Dryden Semper Viper Award, the first non-American ever to get this award.[3]

In August 1998, De Winne became commander of the 349 Squadron operating from Kleine Brogel. During the NATO Operation Allied Force in the Balkans, De Winne commanded the Dutch-Belgian Deployable Air Task Force.[2] He completed 17 combat sorties. For his achievement during this operation, the Dutch government awarded him the degree of Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau.[4]

De Winne has collected over 2.300 flying hours in Mirage, F-16, Tornado and Jaguar. He also serves as the Chairman of the Belgian Armed Forces Flying Personnel Association.

He currently holds the rank of Brigadier-General.

Astronaut career

Russian Boilersuit of Belgian Astronaut Frank de Winne at the Euro Space Center in Belgium

In October 1998, Frank De Winne was selected as an astronaut candidate by the European Space Agency. In January 2000, he joined the European Astronaut Corps, whose homebase is the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. He provided technical support for the X38 Crew Return Vehicle project division within the Directorate of Manned Spaceflight and Microgravity, located at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.[2] In August 2001, De Winne took up training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center near Moscow, Russia. Training included elements of Basic Training for the International Space Station as well as training as a Soyuz flight engineer.[4]

De Winne's first spaceflight (30 October - 10 November 2002) was a trip as a flight engineer to the International Space Station in 2002, traveling to the station aboard Soyuz TMA-1 and returning aboard Soyuz TM-34. During his time in space, De Winne carried out successfully a programme of 23 experiments in the fields of life and physical sciences and education.

He was the back-up crew member for Léopold Eyharts of ISS Expedition 16.

On 20 September 2007 ESA announced that De Winne would take part in a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station in 2009.[5][6] On 21 November 2008, NASA announced changes to the Expedition schedule, with De Winne becoming Commander of Expedition 21.[7] On 27 May 2009 De Winne launched aboard Soyuz TMA-15, becoming the first astronaut from the European Space Agency to command a space mission.[7]

Honors, awards and arms

flight plan and personal notes of Belgian Astronaut Frank de Winne at the Euro Space Center in Belgium
Coat of arms of Frank De Winne
De sable à un tourteau d'azur bordé d'argent mouvant de la pointe et du flanc senestre, accompagné au chef dextre de huit étoiles d'argent ordonnées en Northrop B-2 Spirit posé en bande, à une capusle Soyouz d'or posée en bande brochante en abîme



De Winne is married to Lena Clarke De Winne. He has three children from a previous marriage. He enjoys football, small PC applications and gastronomy.[8] De Winne appeared on screen during the concerts of rock band U2 on their 360° Tour (and on their U2360° at the Rose Bowl concert video) in pre-recorded segments from the International Space Station, reciting lines from the band's songs "Your Blue Room" and "In a Little While".[9]



Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ "Astronauts and Cosmonauts (Sorted by "Time in Space")".
  2. ^ a b c d e European Space Agency. "Astronaut biography: Frank De Winne". Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  3. ^ "Frank de Winne first non-American to receive Semper Viper Award".
  4. ^ a b Belgian Air Component. "Frank De Winne: May the Stars be with Him". Archived from the original on 4 January 2005. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  5. ^ NASA (2008). "NASA Assigns Crews for STS-127 and Expedition 19 Missions". NASA. Archived from the original on 25 February 2020. Retrieved 11 February 2008.
  6. ^ vrtnieuws.net. "flandersnews.be - Belgian astronaut returns to space". Retrieved 20 September 2007.
  7. ^ a b NASA HQ (2008). "NASA Assigns Space Station Crews, Updates Expedition Numbering". NASA. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
  8. ^ European Space Agency. "Frank De Winne". European Space Agency. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  9. ^ "U2 > News > Bono and Edge:Space Talk". u2.com. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
Preceded by ISS Expedition Commander
30 October to 1 December 2009
Succeeded by