European space record set

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German astronaut Thomas Reiter set a European record for time in space, logging his 210th cumulative day in orbit, the European Space Agency said. Reiter who embarked on his second space mission when he lifted off aboard the US shuttle Discovery on July 4, three days ago surpassed the previous European mark, held by Frenchman Jean-Pierre Haignere, according to a statement posted yesterday on the ESA Web site. The German astronaut is due to return to earth from the International Space Station in December. „At the end of your mission you will have spent one year in space,” ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said in a message to Reiter. „With this outstanding expertise and experience you -- as our „highest flying” colleague -- symbolize Europe's commitment to space.” Reiter previously spent 179 days in space between September 1995 and February 1996 aboard the Russian Mir space station. When he leaves the International Space Station in December, he'll be approaching the US record of 374 days in space held by British-born NASA astronaut Michael Foale. Neither comes close to the total of 803 days -- more than two years -- spent in orbit by Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev. Reiter is also the first astronaut from outside Russia or the US to become a permanent crew member aboard the International Space Station. During his stay, he is installing equipment for use in biological experiments. Last week, he carried out the first space walk by an ESA astronaut from the International Space Station. ESA was formed in 1973 and has 17 member countries, including the UK, Germany and France. (Bloomberg)

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