European Space Agency hunts for diverse astronauts and ‘parastronaut’

Paris (dpa) – The European Space Agency (ESA) is advertising for new astronauts, seeking candidates as of March 31, and is focusing on diversity, the director general said on Tuesday.

“It’s time to look for new astronauts, and I’m sure we’ll find the best,” ESA Director General Jan Woerner said at a press conference.

“Diversity is an asset,” Woerner said, adding that it enriches teams. ESA is appealing to women in particular to apply.

ESA is looking for four to six career astronaut, who would be hired as permanent staff and assigned to space missions.

The agency is also looking for up to 20 men and women astronauts as reserves, who could be selected for specific missions.

ESA is looking to include an astronaut with a physical disability for the reserve pool, for a programme called “Parastronaut.” The agency is investigating under what conditions the candidate could fly to the International Space Station (ISS).

“We have a lot of unanswered questions about this,” said David Parker, ESA director of astronautical and robotic exploration, adding that if you don’t ask questions, you don’t get answers.

The deadline for applications is May 28. Candidates are then subject to a six-stage selection process which is to be completed in October 2022.

Applicants are asked to submit a curriculum vitae, a letter of motivation and a medical certificate. They should have a master’s degree in science or medicine, for example, and a few years of professional experience.

This is the first time in more than a decade that ESA is seeking new astronauts and on Twitter, German astronaut Alexander Gerst called it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”


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