Biographies of International Astronauts


Ulf Dietrich


hi res version (526 KB)

more photos

Personal data

Birthdate:  20.06.1941
Birthplace:  Greiz
Marital status:  married
Children:  two
Selection date:  18.05.1978
Selection group:  ESA-1
Position:  PSP
Status:  Ret. 30.08.1998


No. Mission Position Time Duration
1  STS-9 Columbia  PS  28.11. - 08.12.1983 10d 07h 47m 
2  STS-42 Discovery  PS  22.01. - 30.01.1992 8d 01h 14m 
3  Soyuz TM-20 / Soyuz TM-19  Research Cosmonaut  03.10. - 04.11.1994 31d 12h 35m 
Total  49d 21h 36m 

Backup assignments

No. Mission Position
1  STS-61A  PS

Additional information

Ulf Merbold graduated from Stuttgart University in 1968 with a diploma in physics. In 1976 he received a doctorate in Sciences (Dr.rer.nat.).
After university, Ulf Merbold joined the Max-Planck-Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, first on the basis of a scholarship of the Max Planck Society and later as a staff member, where he studied state and low temperature physics, in particular experimental investigations of lattice defects in body-centered cubic metals. In 1977, Ulf Merbold was pre-selected by ESA as a Payload Specialist for the first flight of the European-built Spacelab laboratory on the US Space Shuttle (Spacelab 1). A year later he was nominated as one of the three Payload Specialists for the mission and in 1982 was selected for flight by the ESA Director General, following a recommendation of the Principal Investigators (the scientists involved in the mission). Ulf Merbold became the first non-American to fly on the Space Shuttle during the STS-9 mission (November 28, to December 08, 1983). In 1984 he was involved in the Space Shuttle Spacelab German D-1 mission, as both back-up Payload Specialist and Crew Interface Coordinator (CIC).
Merbold transferred to the European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, in 1986 to support ESA in the planning of Columbus, the European laboratory for the International Space Station. He was appointed Head of the DLR (German Aerospace Research Establishment) Astronaut Office in 1987 and, on the basis of a secondment to DLR, led the German astronauts and supported the preparation of the D2 mission. In December 1988 he was nominated as ESA Payload Specialist candidate for the International Microgravity Laboratory mission (IML-1) on the Space Shuttle.
In August 1993, after preparatory courses at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC), he started training at TsPK (Cosmonauts Training Centre) in Star City near Moscow. He was selected for flight (Crew 1) for ESA's Euromir 94 mission and became the first ESA astronaut to fly on the Russian space station Mir, carrying out a 32-day mission between October 03, and November 04, 1994.
Between 1999 and 2004 Ulf Merbold was responsible for the Utilisation Promotion Management in the Microgravity Promotion Division of the ESA Directorate of Manned Spaceflight and Microgravity, at ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Ulf Merbold holds a commercial pilots license (CPL2) with Instrument Rating, as well as an Acrobatic license, and has logged more than 3000 hours as Pilot in Command. Now he is retired.
He enjoys skiing, glider flying and piano playing.

Personal patch

hi res version (412 KB)


Last update on August 25, 2018.