European Space Agency now taking applicants for next generation of astronauts

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ESA is now taking applications from wannabe astronauts for its future space missions. The window for astronaut applications opened on March 31 and all “future astronauts” have until May 28 to apply. However, as the ESA noted in a statement, “becoming an ESA astronaut is no easy feat.”

The job spec for ‘astronaut’ posted on the ESA’s job site lists a plethora of technical and behavioural competencies which need to be adhered to.

This includes “fine motor skills” and “ability to rapidly assimilate and synthesise complex information”.

The job spec adds: “As one of the ESA astronauts, you will need to show strong motivation and be able to cope with extended periods of high workload, irregular working hours, frequent travel, and long absences from home, your family and normal social life.

“Flexibility with regards to the place of work (inside or outside Europe) is required.

“An ability to act calmly under pressure is essential as well as strict adherence to ethical values, such as integrity, fair and equal treatment, social dialogue and transparency.”

ESA director of human and robotic exploration David Parker recently said in an ESA Explores podcast the potential astronauts will one day have the chance to become one of the first humans on Mars.

He said: “Not only will we continue to live and work in low Earth orbit on board the Space Station for perhaps another 10 years, we also have concrete opportunities to fly astronauts to new destinations.

“We need to keep our eyes on our aim of living and working on the lunar Gateway, then the Moon, and who knows – maybe even one day – the surface of Mars.

“This new group of recruits will help keep our astronaut corps at full strength, ready for an exciting future.”

This is the first astronaut selection campaign from ESA in more than a decade.

One of the new features of the latest process is that ESA is seeking a candidate with a physical disability.

This candidate will help shape future ESA technologies and adaptations which will one day be needed to send “an astronaut with a physical disability on a professional space mission”.

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ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti said: “This hasn’t been attempted or considered before, but for me it is really important because European astronauts represent the best of Europe.

“There could be an excellent scientist or engineer who just happens to live with a physical disability.

“We did not evolve to go to space, so when it comes to space travel, we are all disabled.

“What brings us from being disabled to go to space to being able to go to space is just technology.

“This is a feasibility study and we’re going to look into what exactly is needed, how much it will cost – but that’s the goal.”

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