Astronauts

OK, this got me thinking.

I was looking at the space shuttle site and NASA, and noticed that the late Ilan Ramon, one of the astronauts on the last mission was an Isreali.

Here’s his photo.

http://www.nasa.gov/columbia/crew/profile_ilanr.html

What I was wondering was, that as far as I new, you had to be a US citizen to be an astronaut of the space shuttle. Any British people who have flow with NASA had to become naturalised US citzens, and wear the stars and stripes. Check this article, you will see what I mean.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2308973.stm

So how come the Isreali guy doesn’t (didn’t, sorry) have to become an American?

Dual citizenship in both Israel & the US is far from unknown.

From the Charlotte Observer:

All indications are he held only Israeli citizenship.

A good number of Russian cosmonauts have flown on the shuttle, so American citizenship isn’t a prerequisite.

Needing American citizenship will come as a surprise to Canadians Marc Garneau (three shuttle missions) and Roberta Bondar (one shuttle mission).

Philippe Perrin of France’s CNES space agency was born in Morocco, but is a French Citizen. He flew to the International Space Station aboard the U.S. shuttle flight STS-111 in 2002

Andy Thomas, an Australian, flew in May 1996 on shuttle Endeavour flight STS-77.

Lodewijk van den Berg of the Netherlands flew in April-May 1985 in shuttle Challenger.

Wubbo Ockels of the European Space Agency (also of the Netherlands) flew in October-November 1985 in shuttle Challenger.

Rodolfo Neri, a Mexican, flew six days in 1985 in shuttle Atlantis

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan Salman Abdel Aziz Al-Saud flew in 1985 in shuttle Discovery

AFAIK the first to do it was West German Ulf Merbold who flew ten days in 1983 in shuttle Columbia.

Google International Astronauts or any of these names for bios

It’s the International Space Station, you know. NASA’s Astronaut Fact Book (PDF file) has a whole section on “International Astronauts Currently in the U.S. Space Program”, listing Japanese, French, Swedish, Canadian, Italian, Swiss, Brazilian, and German astronauts; plus another section for “Cosmonauts Currently in the U.S. Space Program” listing all the Russians assigned to our space program.

International cooperation in space goes back at least to the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, and even before the ISS there were plenty of non-Americans and non-Russians going into space in cooperation with the two big space programs. There have been Saudis, Frenchmen, Canadians, Belgians, Germans, Ukrainians, Italians, Japanese, Mexicans, and Dutchmen who have flown aboard the Space Shuttle as Payload Specialists (and of course the late Colonel Ilan Ramon, who was indeed an Israeli citizen).

From the BBC article:

It would almost seem from that quote and others, that the requirement isn’t a US one, but rather the Brits won’t allow it’s citizens to go, as long as they remain British citizens.

Just my WAG.

That BBC article strikes me as a highly inaccurate puff piece. While it is indeed true that Piers Sellers had to have U.S. citizenship to join the U.S. space program, there is no reason to believe that a British citizen can’t be sent up. It’s just extremely unlikely that any British citizens will be invited along unless Britain will pay, which they won’t.