2022 European Space Agency Astronaut Group

Summary

The 2022 European Space Agency Astronaut Group is a forthcoming selection of 4-6 new members of the European Astronaut Corps. It is the fourth European Space Agency (ESA) recruitment campaign and the first since 2008.[1] The announcement of the selected astronaut candidates is expected in October 2022.[1]

Along with the "career astronauts" the campaign also intends to recruit a "reserve pool" of astronauts who "will not be permanent ESA staff, but could have the opportunity to be selected for specific projects, as project astronauts."[1] Successful candidates will join the continuing corps of ESA astronauts, those selected in 2009, to perform long-duration spaceflight missions aboard the International Space Station, and "...will form part of the crew for the next missions to the moon in the late 2020s and through the 2030s"[2] – as part of the Artemis program – and eventually, a human mission to Mars.[3]

Recruitment

ESA press conferences
video icon Recruitment campaign launch – English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish

The recruitment campaign was announced at press conferences in February 2021.[4] Applications for the roles of "astronaut" and "astronaut (with a physical disability)" in the ESA Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration Programmes were accepted between 31 March and 18 June.[5][6] The original deadline of May 28 was extended by three weeks due to Lithuania joining ESA as an associate-member of ESA, and its citizens therefore becoming eligible to apply for the astronaut selection program, only a week before the original deadline.[7]

Criteria

Recruits may be a citizen of any ESA member or associate-member state.[note 1] Women were particularly encouraged to apply — in order to address the gender gap among astronauts[9] — as under 16% of applicants in the previous recruitment campaign were women.[10][11] The campaign also explicitly intends to recruit a person with a physical disability through the "parastronaut feasibility project" with the intention, but not guarantee, of spaceflight.[10][12][3] The types of disability considered for recruitment are lower limb deficiency (e.g. due to amputation or congenital limb deficiency), leg length difference, or short stature.[13]

The minimum formal criteria included: being a citizen of an ESA member (or associate member) state under the age of 50; being between 150-190cm tall (with possible exception under the parastronaut category); a "normal weight" BMI range; fluency in English and another language; a master's degree in the Natural Sciences, Medicine, Engineering, Mathematics/Computer Sciences (plus three years of professional experience), or accreditation as an experimental test pilot; a "hearing capacity of 25 dB or better per ear"; and a current class 2 pilot’s medical certificate.[14][1] Upon selection, recruits would then receive training in "...the essentials of being an astronaut, survival skills and the Russian language, before moving on to robotics, navigation, maintenance and spacewalks", and then receiving mission-specific training.[15]

Applicants

Over 22,000 applications were received with candidates from all eligible nationalities (including Lithuania), as well as over 200 for the parastronaut program. At almost five and a half thousand applicants, 24% of all applications were from women (an increase on 1287/15,3% in the 2008 selections).[16] At over seven thousand, the largest number of applicant came from France, at almost twice as many as the next most common applicant citizenship, Germany. It was speculated that the popularity of the call for applicants among French citizens was due to Thomas Pesquet's "Alpha" mission to the ISS beginning while the application period was open.[17] More than a thousand applications were also received from each of British, Spanish, Italian and Belgian citizens, while less than 100 applications were received from Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Luxembourgers, and Slovenians.[18][note 2] ESA stressed that the selection is "irrespective" of national funding of the organisation.[19]

Selection process

The selection process itself is over 6 selection stages:[20]

  1. Screening "on the basis of documents submitted, the application form and the screening questionnaire." It is expected that approximately 1500 applicants will be accepted through to round 2, or roughly 7% of all eligible applicants.[17]
  2. Initial tests, which "consists of cognitive, technical, motor coordination and personality tests."
  3. Assessment centre, "consisting of additional psychometric tests, individual and group exercises and practical tests."
  4. Medical tests "that will assess your physical and psychological condition in view of long-duration astronaut missions."
  5. Panel interview, "that will test your technical and behavioural competencies" and background check.
  6. Final interview, "usually consisting of an interview with the ESA Director General."

See also

Notes

  1. ^ At the time, ESA members nations were: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Associate-members were Slovenia, Latvia, and Lithuania.[8] [7]
  2. ^ While many applicants hold multiple citizenships, for statistical purposes ESA categorises them according to their self-declared first citizenship.

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Astronaut selection 2021-22 FAQs". www.esa.int. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  2. ^ "Hunt on to find British astronaut to go to the moon - here's what you need to qualify". Sky News. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  3. ^ a b Reuters (2021-02-17). "Europe launches recruitment drive for female and disabled astronauts". the Guardian. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  4. ^ "Watch live: ESA outlines its search for astronauts". www.esa.int. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  5. ^ "Astronaut Job Req ID: 12355". jobs.esa.int. 2021-03-31. Archived from the original on 2021-03-31. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  6. ^ "Astronaut (with a physical disability) Job Req ID: 12354". jobs.esa.int. 2021-03-31. Archived from the original on 2021-03-31. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  7. ^ a b "ESA extends deadline for astronaut applications as new Associate Member joins". www.esa.int. 2021-05-21. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  8. ^ "Astronaut selection 2021-22 FAQs". www.esa.int. Retrieved 2021-04-04.
  9. ^ "Women and people with disabilities 'often better adapted to spaceflight than men'". www.abc.net.au. 2021-02-17. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  10. ^ a b "European Space Agency: Astronaut recruitment seeks disability applicants". BBC News. 2021-02-16. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  11. ^ "Applicants from all ESA Member States to become European astronauts". www.esa.int. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  12. ^ "European Space Agency in bid to recruit female and disabled astronauts". euronews. 2021-02-16. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  13. ^ "Parastronaut feasibility project". www.esa.int. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  14. ^ "Astronaut Application Handbook" (PDF). European Space Agency. 2021-03-31. p. 19. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-03-31. Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  15. ^ Correspondent, Naomi O’Leary Europe. "European Space Agency launches search for new astronauts". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  16. ^ "Wide range of applications for ESA's astronaut selection". www.esa.int. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  17. ^ a b "Big numbers apply to be European astronauts". BBC News. 2021-06-23. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  18. ^ "ESA Astronaut Selection 2021: Preliminary Numbers" (PDF). European Space Agency. 2021-06-23. p. 3. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  19. ^ "European Space Agency: Astronaut recruitment drive for greater diversity". BBC News. 2021-02-16. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  20. ^ "Astronaut Application Handbook" (PDF). European Space Agency. 2021-03-31. p. 13. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-03-31. Retrieved 2021-03-31.

External links

  • ESA recruitment website YourWayToSpace and astronaut application handbook