Do you want to go into orbit? The European Space Agency (ESA) is about to launch its fourth astronaut recruitment campaign, with the aim of “changing generations”, with more space for women, and possibly for people with disabilities.
8,000 applicants, including Thomas Pesquet
Vacancies are rare: only four to six candidates will be selected at the end of the long selection process, which will open on March 31 with the reception of candidates, and will end in October 2022. At the time of the previous wave of 2008, recruitment, out of more than 8,000 applicants, exceeded fewer than ten Finish line, including Thomas Pesquet, the youngest member of the European Astronaut Corps.
“Volunteers to be our new colleagues? Getting started !!” The 43-year-old French astronaut has tweeted, in preparation for his second mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), “Alpha”, scheduled for next spring.
From the coaching site, Thomas Pesquet will offer some advice to his future colleagues, in a video message posted this Tuesday at a press conference marking the official launch of the campaign.
to the moon?
This wave of recruitment is the first in 11 years for the European Space Agency and its 22 member states to enter a “new era of space exploration”. Because the next generation of astronauts, who will be alongside the current generation, are destined to fly to the International Space Station, but also to the Moon, in particular the American Artemis program which, in the next decade, indicates the return of astronauts to the moon alone and the installation of a permanent base. The European Space Agency has already secured three seats for the Europeans on board the future Lunar Orbital Station Gateway, as a contributor to the program.
With this new horizon in mind, the European Agency wants to “initiate a real change of generations”. It “strongly encourages women to come forward” to “promote gender diversity in their ranks.” In the previous campaign, only 16% of women scored.
Launch of the feasibility project Parastronaut
But diversity “may” also extend to physical disabilities, said David Parker, director of human exploration and robotics at the European Space Agency. “Together with hiring astronauts, I am launching a project to make parastronautics viable, an innovation whose time has come,” explains the director.
Six tests await the candidates, preferably 27 to 37 years old and from 22 member states of the space agency, created in 1975. The content of the tests will be detailed on Tuesday, but we already know the level of demand to work on it in orbit. (My science, technology, my body, myself …) is high. Not to mention the languages you need to know: Thomas Pesquet speaks English, Russian, Spanish, German and even a little bit of Chinese. The selection criteria are multiple and the more political aspects (not all member states contribute equally to the ESA budget) should influence the final decision.
“Prone to bouts of indifference. Beer missionary. Incurable coffee. The internet expert.”