Swiss Space Centre & Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

Member, Swiss Space Center

Honorary Professor, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne


Claude Nicollier has been a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut of Swiss nationality for 30 years.  

He was a crewmember on four Space Shuttle flights, namely STS-46 in 1992 (EURECA deployment and first test of a Tethered Satellite System or TSS), STS-61 in 1993 (first servicing mission of the Hubble Space Telescope), STS-75 in 1996 (second flight of TSS, and USMP-3 microgravity investigations), and STS-103 in 1999 (third servicing mission of the Hubble Space Telescope).  He has logged more than 1000 hours in space, including a spacewalk of 8 hours duration to install new equipment on the Hubble Space Telescope on STS-103.  

He is a graduate of the University of Lausanne in 1970 (Bachelor of Science in physics) and the University of Geneva in 1975 (Master of Science in astrophysics). He also graduated as a Swiss Air Force pilot in 1966, an airline pilot in 1974 (flying DC-9s for Swissair 1974-1976), and as a test pilot in 1988 (Empire Test Pilot's School, Boscombe Down, United Kingdom).

Claude was a member of the first group of ESA astronauts selected in 1978. He was then assigned to the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas for Space Shuttle training, and stayed there until 2005.  In addition to his 4 spaceflights, he held technical assignments in Houston including Space Shuttle flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), robotics and EVA (ExtraVehicular Activity) support for the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). 

While in Houston he retained active duty status with the Swiss Air Force with the rank of Captain, flying Hawker Hunter, Northrop F-5E "Tiger", and Pilatus PC-9 aircraft until the end of 2004.  He has logged more than 6,400 flight hours, 4,000 of which have been in jet aircraft.

Claude retired from the ESA in 2007.  He is currently a member of the Swiss Space Center and an honorary professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne or EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) where he teaches a course on “Space Mission Design and Operations”.  He also assists students on various space-related projects.

Claude was also involved in the “Solar Impulse” solar-powered aircraft project as head of Flight Test.This aircraft landed in Abu Dhabi in the UAE on July 26, 2016, after completing a round-the-world flight, with several stops, and without using any propellant.

Claude is a recipient of honorary doctorates from EPFL, and the Universities of Geneva and Basel.