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May 23rd
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First Danish astronaut announced

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Danish aerospace engineer Andreas Mogensen will join the European Space Agency Astronaut Corps

The European Space Agency (ESA) has chosen Andreas Mogensen as the first Danish astronaut to join the European space programme.

ESA launched its search for a new corps of astronauts in May last year and received 8413 applicants, including 35 from Denmark. Of the thousands of eager applicants, six were chosen, including 32-year-old Mogensen.

The Danish representative is currently based in England working as a researcher at the Surrey Space Center. Mogensen has a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas and was a former control systems engineer at Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas.

Mogensen’s research at the University of Surrey focuses on the guidance navigation and control of spacecraft.

During the ESA press conference today, Mogensen said he was ‘proud and thrilled’ to be chosen for the programme.

‘It is the culmination of a life-long dream that began with the awe and sense of adventure that embodies human space exploration.’

Mogensen said that the year-long process of his application had been tough, confirming that he had not been one of the nationally pre-selected candidates that Denmark assembled in 2005.

The Dane said that he had just started his PhD when the Danish selection process began, and although it was a difficult decision, he decided it was best to finish his education as quickly as possible, gain some industrial work experience and then apply to ESA directly.

‘Sitting here today I think I made the right choice,’ said Mogensen.

When asked if he was scared by the prospect of being the first Dane in space he said that he and his new colleagues were of course feeling nervous.

‘When you’re a child your parents and teachers tell you to dream big and get that dream, but no one ever tells you what happens when you achieve it. We just have to enjoy each moment as much as possible,’ said Mogensen.

The Danish engineer was joined by the first female member of the corps – an Italian combat pilot – and representatives from Britain, Germany and France.

Director General of ESA, Jean-Jacques Dordain, said the new astronauts were not chosen because of their specialities or their nationalities, but because they were the best. This was evident with the selection of a British helicopter test pilot, as Britain has been a vocal detractor of the agency’s human space exploration programme.

ESA does not have its own rockets and so European astronauts must find an available place on US or Russian launches in order to complete their work at the International Space Station.

One of the first European astronauts, Belgian Frank de Winne, is about to become the first non-US or Russian to assume command of the space station.

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