Shuttle visitors

NASA did not use the Space Shuttle for such overtly political purposes, but the nature of Shuttle crews meant that there were soon opportunities for foreign astronauts to take their place on board. While NASA's own pilots and mission specialists (professional astronauts) are US citizens or naturalized Americans, payload specialists are chosen in collaboration with whoever is sponsoring a mission, and international astronauts from various partner agencies also frequently join the crew. In this way, people from many countries have flown on the Shuttle during deployment of national satellites. The agreement to build Spacelab automatically assured ESA of a number of flights for its astronauts, and both Japan and Germany have sponsored additional Spacelab missions with their own astronauts.

NASA also has a special relationship with the Canadian Space Agency, which supplied the robot-arm systems for both the Space Shuttle and the ISS. As a result, Canada was invited to nominate several people to fly aboard the Shuttle, kick-starting its astronaut programme.


ISS expeditions are international affairs - the crew of the Soyuz TMA-8 handover flight, for example, consisted of (from left) Marcos Pontes (Brazil), Pavel Vinogradov (Russia), and Jeffrey Williams (United States).

2 March 1978

Vladimir Remek becomes the first non-Russian, non-American in space aboard Soyuz 28.

26 August 1978

East German Sigmund Jëhn becomes the first German cosmonaut.

18 September 1980

Arnaldo Tamayo-Méndez becomes the first Cuban in space.

24 June 1982

Jean-Loup Chrétien of France becomes the first spationaut.

28 November 1983

Ulf Merbold becomes the first West German astronaut, aboard Columbia's STS-9 flight.

3 April 1984

Rakesh Sharma becomes India's first cosmonaut.

5 October 1984

Marc Garneau becomes Canada's first astronaut with his flight aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger during STS-41G.

18 May 1991

Helen Sharman becomes the first Briton in space.

19 May 1996

Australian-born Andrew Thomas travels on the Space Shuttle Endeavour's STS-77 mission.


The Canadian Space Agency's special relationship with NASA has allowed several Canadians to fly on the Space Shuttle. Here astronaut Chris Had field works in the Shuttle cargo bay during Endeavour's STS-100 mission. The Canadian-built robot-arm (or Remote Manipulator System) is prominent in the foreground.

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