Applications to become the European astronaut close next week

Do YOU have what it takes? Applications to become the European Space Agency’s next astronaut close next week – with people with ‘lower limb deficiencies or short stature’ encouraged to sign up for future missions to the MOON

  • The successful candidate will become part of the European Space Agency crew
  • This is the first astronaut recruitment drive from European agency since 2008
  • For the first time people with disabilities and under 130cm are invited to apply
  • Those selected are likely to be sent to the Moon before the end of this decade

The deadline to become the next European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut closes next week, with the succesful candidate likely to travel to the Moon by 2030.  

A recruitment drive was launched in February with the goal of training a new generation of astronauts from any member nation of the European Space Agency. 

This recruitment drive, the first from ESA since 2008, is the only one in history to feature a pilot scheme which encourages people living with disabilities to apply. 

Individuals with missing feet or lower legs, either from amputation or birth defects, are eligible, as too are people who are shorter than 130 cm (4ft 3in). 

In total the European Space Agency are looking for about 26 astronauts – six permanent career astronauts and 20 reservists who can be called up as needed. 

The agency extended the deadline from the original March 31 to June 18 to give residents of new ESA member state Lithuania time to apply, but the deadline change applies to people from any ESA member, including the UK. 

Scroll down for video 

The European Space Agency is looking for a parastronaut that could travel to the ISS in the future


The European Space Agency (ESA) is searching for two types of astronaut candidates.

Permanent – career astronauts 

The career astronauts will be selected to work permanently for the European Space Agency and will lead missions. 

They will be regularly scheduled for space travel and up to six will be picked from the candidates. 

Temporary – reserve astronauts

Reserve astronauts will continue in their usual place of work but be called up for short notice and duration trips to the International Space Station.

These will be missions in partnership with other agencies and there will be a pool of 20 reservist astronauts.

While it is possible to apply until June 18, the European Space Agency has warned it could be difficult to get medical certification in time, so recommends applying as soon as possible.

Head of space medicine, Guillaume Weerts, says there is an intensive testing process involved and these certificates are required as part of this.

‘This is why the June 18 deadline cannot be further extended,’ he said. 

‘Applicants must undergo the required medical examination by an aviation medical examiner certified by their national aviation medical authority.

‘However, if you have not yet received your formal certificate, ESA will also accept a copy of the official medical report,’ he explained.

‘The official certificate can then be provided at a later date if needed.’

ESA have secured three astronaut trips to the Lunar Gateway due to be built in orbit around the Moon and hope to be able to send European’s to the surface of our natural satellite in the future. 

‘Astronauts will fly further away from Earth than anybody has ever been’ when they go to the Gateway as it will be further from Earth than the Moon, says Frank De Winne from the ESA astronaut training centre.

‘The first five to ten years will see astronauts fly to the ISS, but after that there will be opportunities to fly to the Moon and further than the Moon,’ 

The lucky individual will continue the British space exploration legacy started by Helen Sharman in 1989 and continued in 2015 by Tim Peake. 

Ms Sharman became the first British Astronaut when she was selected for the joint UK – Soviet Union mission, Juno and spent eight days in space in May 1991. She also made history as the first female Astronaut to visit the Mir Space Station.

Mr Peake however became the first government-funded Briton in space when he launched to the ISS on December 15, 2015. he spent six months on the ISS and was the first Briton to complete a spacewalk.  

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is currently on the ISS, becoming the first European to fly to the station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule

Mr Peake was part of the 2008 ESA recruiting class alongside five other Britons and this was the last time the ESA actively recruited for astronauts. 

Jan Womer, ESA Director General, said they were actively recruiting for new astronauts despite those from the last selection still being active as they need to ‘secure a continuity’ and smooth transfer of knowledge between generations.

‘The International Space Station is a destination for the future but we are also looking towards the Moon, especially the Gateway, and so we’re looking for new astronauts.’

Womer said all astronauts are ‘European astronauts’. He says he understands they are loved and held up with pride by their home nation, but at the heart they are pan-European astronauts that are celebrated throughout the continent. 

Although more people than ever are being encouraged to apply, there are still stringent restrictions on who can become an astronaut. 

For example, people are only eligible if they are either qualified as an experimental test pilot or hold a master’s degree or higher in Natural Sciences, Medicine, Engineering, Mathematics or Computer Sciences.

Fluency in English is essential, as too is the ability to be calm under pressure and a willingness to participate in life science experiments. 

ESA are looking for up to six ‘career astronauts’ that will command missions and be permanent members of the ESA Astronaut crew, as well as a selection of ‘reserve astronauts’ to step in for short term or short notice missions.

British astronaut Tim Peake is helping with the latest recruitment drive and will likely be going back to the International Space Station in the coming years

These would be a one-off or limited duration mission, with reserve astronauts remaining with their current employer, but hired by ESA temporarily.

‘They could come from contributing members of ESA, including associated states such as Canada, willing to fund an astronaut, says David Parker from ESA.

They are looking for up to 20 astronauts to join the volunteer, reserve crew. 

‘Over the next few years and decades, space exploration will become even more exciting as we travel back to the Moon and even further to Mars,’ Mr Peake said.

‘For space missions to succeed, they require highly motivated people from diverse backgrounds to combine their skills and work as a team. 

Candidates will go through a rigorous selection process including screening, psychological testing, medical testing and interviews

Astronaut criteria  

The UK Space Agency hopes the next professional UK astronaut will be  selected through this recruitment drive.

To be eligible to file an application, an individual must: 

  • have  a master’s degree (or higher) in Natural Sciences, Medicine, Engineering, Mathematics or Computer Sciences 
  • OR be qualified as an experimental test pilot
  • be fluent  in English
  • Good knowledge of a second language 
  • be calm under pressure and be willing to participate in life science experiments
  • Flexible with regards to place of work 

‘The next generation of UK citizens have so much to offer the world, and so I would encourage anyone who has dreamt of pushing the boundaries of what is possible to take this opportunity to be part of ESA’s future cohort of space pioneers.’ 

To apply you will need to upload a CV, medical certificate and proof of qualifications and that you meet all the requirements. 

Jennifer Ngo-Anh, a space scientist with ESA, said it is a challenging job that requires candidates that can work with inter-disciplinary and international teams.

‘Candidates need to have fine and advanced motor skills and need to be calm under pressure, but there will be a strong team supporting them.

‘Astronauts are the most visible characters of our space programme and so will contribute to outreach and public relations activities before, during and after a mission,’ she said. 

Following this period of time there will be a 17-month process of screening and testing before the finalists are announced in October 2022. 

Science Minister, Amanda Solloway, said: ‘Becoming an astronaut is a dream for many, and Tim Peake’s historic mission to space in 2015 showed millions of Brits that it can become a reality, while putting the UK firmly on the map as a leading space-faring nation.

‘With the UK space sector receiving more government backing than ever before, it’s time for a new generation of British astronauts to answer this call as we continue working with our European partners to push the boundaries of science and exploration even further.’

The coveted role of astronaut is the most well-known role in the sector of space exploration but 42,000 people in the UK work in the business, with roles ranging from aerospace engineers to lawyers.  

Astronauts launching for space will be expected to be able to participate in space science missions and may one day travel to the lunar gateway

A number of European Space Agency astronauts have already been to the ISS and the new cohort will also travel to a new space station around the Moon within the decade

There will then be a 17-month process of screening, psychological, practical, and psychometric testing, medical selections and two interview selections until the final applicants will be appointed and announced in October 2022. 

‘It is a tough process, I found it tough going through but just took it one step at a time. A large number won’t make it through the application phase to round one, so an attention to detail is very important,’ said Tim Peake. 

‘Becoming an astronaut has been a dream come true. It brings together many of my passions,’ Samantha Cristoforetti, current ESA astronaut said of the opening. 

She said it covers ‘science and technology, complex machines, demanding operational environments, international teams, physical fitness, public outreach. And of course, occasionally you get to ride a rocket to work!’ 

Frank De Winne from the ESA astronaut centre said the first missions of the new astronauts will be to the ISS as it is still the core of ESA projects.

A recruitment drive from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK has launched today with the ultimate goal of hiring and training people who will be sent to the moon before the end of the 2020s 

There will be a rigorous training regime for the handful of potential astronauts selected from the thousands of applications


The European Space Agency is looking for a parastronaut that could travel to the ISS in the future.

The person selected will join the reserve crew while ESA work with partners to find a safe way to travel. 

Individuals with missing feet or lower legs, either from amputation or birth defects, are eligible, as too are people who are shorter than 130 cm (4ft 3in). 

Tim Peake says he ‘wouldn’t have any reservations travelling to space with someone with disabilities’.

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti said we ‘didn’t evolve to be in space’.

She said we’re ‘all disabled in space’ and it is just a case of perfecting the technology to take candidates who would otherwise be selected to be an astronaut if it were not for a disability. 

‘They will participate in long duration missions to the ISS where they will participate in space science experiments,’ he said, adding over the decade they will have the opportunity to go further afield, including to the surface of the Moon.

‘Some of the future missions these astronauts have got to look forward to are incredible,’ said Tim Peake.  

Jan Womer said ‘diversity is not a burden for us, diversity is an asset for us.’

‘Diversity is something we are looking into in more broader sense, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability and other characteristics,’ he said.

‘We would really encourage women to apply as it is interesting and supportive to have mixed teams, but for the first time we are also selecting people with disabilities for our parastronaut project, said Womer.

De Winne confirmed future astronauts would travel to space on a range of launch vehicles including SpaceX, Soyuz and Boeing.

‘Our astronauts can fly on any of those vehicles and it is decided on a mission by mission basis based on traffic flow to the International Space Station,’ he said. 

De Winne said the important part is the work on the ISS and the ‘bus taken to get there is of less importance,’ adding ‘we are open to any solution in the future’. 

For the parastronaut vacancy, while they will remain a member of the reserve crew, ESA plans to work with commercial space operators to find a safe way to send them to the ISS where thy can perform ‘meaningful and useful work’.

‘We believe it is time to assess the feasibility of sending astronauts with physical disabilities into space, Womer said. 

David Parker from ESA said they’ve been examining the barriers involved in sending a physically disabled astronaut to the ISS and have them work there.

This is why initially a disabled astronaut will join the reserve list, rather than become a permanent ESA astronaut, but they aim to send them to the station.

The plan is to work with ISS partners to find a way to send someone with physical disabilities to space – as ESA doesn’t have its own crew vehicles. 

‘We need to work with experts in the field, with providers of space transportation, with medical technology companies,’ said Parker. 

European astronaut ‘could be on Moon mission by the end of the decade’

A European astronaut could be on a mission to the Moon by the end of the decade, the head of the European Space Agency (ESA) has said.

ESA director-general Jan Woerner said he prefers to think of missions to the Earth’s satellite as going ‘forward’ to the Moon, rather than ‘going back’ to it.

He added that he thinks it is unlikely people will be on the surface of the Moon in 2024, and that it will probably take a couple more years.

Speaking at a press briefing, Prof Woerner said: ‘What I heard all the time – also during the Trump administration – but what we heard from Nasa is that the schedule to go to the Moon and land people on the surface of the Moon in 2024 is really difficult.

‘Therefore I believe that now, with all these changes, the pressure is a little bit off, and therefore I believe there will be humans on the surface of the Moon soon.

‘And maybe – I don’t have a crystal ball – but let’s say I’m sure that in 2025/2026 there will be something. 

Source: Read Full Article