Born on 2 September 1953 in Heidenheim, Germany. Studied Physics at University in München and Heidelberg, where he received his Ph.D. at the Institute for Environmental Physics in 1985. He performed post-doc research at Princeton University before joining the German astronaut corps in late 1987.
In 1996 Thiele moved to Houston, Texas, where he was trained as mission specialist by NASA. In February 2000 he participated in the STS-99 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, which aimed at generating a 3D digital topographical map of Earth’s landmass.
In 2001 Thiele returned to the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, where he became head of the astronaut division in 2005. In 2009 Thiele was responsible for the last ESA astronaut selection. Since 2010 Thiele worked as resident fellow at the European Space Policy Institute in Vienna focusing in his research on Space Exploration and on European Autonomy in Space. In 2013 he became Head of the Strategic Planning and Outreach Office in the Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Operations at ESA.
Since 2016 Thiele is self-employed and has a lecturer assignment at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Hochschule (RWTH) in Aachen. Gerhard Thiele is married and has four children.