Degree in physics, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich. Degree in physics, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, 1982. Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Physics, Heidelberg University, 1985.
After school he volunteered for the German Navy, serving as Operations/Weapons Officer aboard fast patrol boats. In 1976 he began to study physics at the University of Munich and the University of Heidelberg. He received his doctorate in Heidelberg in 1985 in Environmental Physics.
From 1986 to 1987 he was a postdoc at Princeton University.
In 1988 he was selected for the German astronaut team and began basic training at the Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt. In 1990 he was selected as a backup crew member for the German spacelab mission Doctorate-2 (STS-55). During the mission, which took part in April 1993, he worked in the Payload Operations Control Center of Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt at Oberpfaffenhofen as the alternate payload specialist.
In 1996, he was selected by the German Space Agency to receive Space Shuttle Mission Specialist training at National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In August 1998, he joined the European Space Agency (European Space Agency), into which the German national team was integrated. In 2000, he completed his only spaceflight, the STS-99 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.
During 2003 and 2004, he trained in Russia as the backup for André Kuipers on the Soyuz Turnaround Management Association-4 mission.
He retired from the European Astronaut Corps in October 2005. As from 1 April 2010 he became Resident Fellow with the European Space Policy Institute in Vienna, Austria. Gerhard Thiele has been appointed as the head of European Space Agency"s Human Spaceflight and Operations Strategic Planning and Outreach office (HSO-K) effective 01 July 2013.
Member of German Society for Aerospace and Space Flight, American Geophysical Union, German Physical Society.
Married; 4 children.