De Winne, Frank

Frank De Winne is a Belgian Air Component officer and an ESA astronaut. He was born Frank Viscount De Winne on April 25, 1961 in Ledeberg, Belgium. He is married to Lena Clarke and has three children from a previous marriage. He enjoys football, concerts, and gastronomy. In 1979, he graduated from the Royal School of Cadets, and in 1984, he graduated from the Royal Military Academy with a Master of Science degree in Engineering. In 1991, after graduating from the Belgian Air Component at Goetsenhoven, De Winne completed the Staff Course at the Defence College in Brussels. One year later he received his degree as a test pilot from the British Empire Test Pilots’ School.

In December 1992, Major of Royal Belgian Air Component De Winne operated as a test pilot for the Belgian Air Force. In July 1996, he was assigned to Edwards Air Force Base in California as a senior test pilot to the European Participating Air Forces. However, in 1997 while flying an F-16, the computer failed and he avoided crashing into a heavily populated area by landing his plane at a Dutch Air Base. He also commanded the Dutch-Belgian Deployable Air Task Force during the NATO Operation Allied Force in the Balkans.

In October 1998, the European Space Agency selected Frank De Winne as an astronaut candidate. In January 2000, he joined the European Astronaut Corps and provided technical support for the X38 Crew Return Vehicle project division at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands. His first spaceflight was in October 2002 as a flight engineer to the International Space Station. He flew aboard Soyuz TMA-1, conducted 23 life science experiments, and returned to Earth aboard Soyuz TM-34. On May 27, 2009 De Winne became the first astronaut from the European Space Agency to command a space mission after launching aboard Soyuz TMA-15.

He has been awarded many honors, including the Campaign Medal for foreign operations, the NATO Medal for Kosovo, the McKenna Trophy, and the Joe Bill Dryden Semper Viper Award. He was also given an honorary doctorate from Hasselt University. De Winne is Belgium’s second person in space and currently holds the rank of Brigadier-General.