Brussels, 19 June 2002
France's first female astronaut has been appointed deputy research minister in the new French government.
Claudie Haigneré, the first woman from the European space agency (ESA) to board the International Space Station (ISS), is making the transition into politics after taking part in Russian missions to the Mir space station in 1996 and the ISS in 2001.
Her appointment, seen as part of a wider move to boost the number of women and non-politicians in the French government, has been welcomed by the ESA.
ESA spokesman Franco Bonacina said: 'We're delighted. It's a good way to lose an astronaut.'
The Russian space agency also welcomed Dr Haigneré's appointment. 'We hope that this nomination will give new impetus to the development of our joint projects,' said spokesman Sergei Gorbunov.