Excluding the former Soviet Union, Germany can boast of the largest number of astronauts in Europe and Asia. By the end of 1994 seven German nationals had flown in space: six on German-sponsored missions on the US STS or Russian space stations and one as a representative of ESA. Germany's experience with manned space flight dates back to 1978 when East German cosmonaut Sigmund Jahn became the third foreign national to visit a Soviet space station (Salyot 6). Moreover, five of these astronauts are physicists by profession rather than the more common pilot or engineer. During 1993-1994 the second German Spacelab mission, Spacelab D2, was conducted with the assistance of two rookie German astronauts, and Ulf Merbold completed his third flight in space for ESA under the Euromir 94 project.
A strong supporter of ESA's Spacelab program, Germany is the only ESA member to underwrite a dedicated Spacelab flight. The Challenger accident which occurred only a few months after the successful Spacelab D1 of October-November, 1985, with two German astronauts, delayed the continuation of such missions from 1988 until 1993. Spacelab D2, with German astronauts Hans Schlegal and Ulrich Water accompanied by five NASA astronauts, was launched on 26 April 1993 for an intensive 10-day mission of scientific studies. Figure 3.8 illustrates the primary facilities available to the crew, amounting to a payload mass of approximately 6.5 metric tons. Materials science and biological science experiments constituted the majority of planned activities, but Earth observation, atmospheric physics, astronomy, and technology research programs were also undertaken. Noteworthy experiments included the Robotic Technology Experiment (ROTEX), Modular Optical Multispectral Scanner 02 (MOMS 02), Galactic Ultra-wideangle Schmidt System (GAUSS), Atomic Oxygen Exposure Tray (AOET), Holographical Optical Laboratory (HOLOP), and Statolithic Experiment II (STATEX II) (References 50-53).
While a third German Spacelab mission was considered, no commitments have been made, and the prospect is now unlikely. German man-related activities will probably be restricted to international STS missions like IML or ESA-sponsored flights. Germany will continue its leadership of ESA's participation in the International Space Station program. Earlier plans to create a manned space transportation system Sanger/HORUS (Hypersonic Orbital Reusable Upper Stage) have been deferred indefinitely.
50. Experiments in Space. The Second German Spacelab Mission D-2, DLR, 1992.
51. M.H. Keller and P.R. Sahm, "The German Spacelab Mission D2: A Scientific and Technological Challenge, Earth Space Review, Vol. 3, No.1,1994, pp.11-21.
52. R. Shuiling, "Columbia Reaches '100th Day in Space': Shuttle Program Clocks Up One Year in Space, Spaceflight, July 1993, pp. 232-236.
53. J.M. Lenorovitz, "Politics May Force German Space Station Cuts", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 3 May 1993, p. 58.