COLOGNE, Germany, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Members of the European Space Agency's newest class of astronauts received their diplomas Monday after their first round of training, officials said.
The six candidates received their diplomas at a ceremony at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany, an ESA release said.
The official Basic Training covered space engineering, electrical engineering, various scientific disciplines and the major systems of the International Space Station and other space vehicles, officials said.
They also underwent training in scuba diving to prepare for spacewalks, robotics, survival training, rendezvous and docking, and lessons in the Russian language.
"When we introduced these six new astronauts, the most important part was not that there were six individuals representing five member countries, but a team of six persons representing Europe," Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General, said.
"ESA has three new flight opportunities to the ISS before 2015, so half of the new astronauts will have an opportunity to fly in space very soon," Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA director of human spaceflight, said. "The first will head into orbit in 2013."
After a year-long selection process from among 8000 applicants, Samantha Cristoforetti from Italy, Alexander Gerst from Germany, Andreas Mogensen from Denmark, Luca Parmitano from Italy, Timothy Peake from the United Kingdom and Thomas Pesquet from France were invited to join ESA's astronaut group in May 2009.