Who wants to be an astronaut? 22 thousand questions in the ESA competition

Closed since last Friday, there are many applications to become astronauts of the European Space Agency: over 22 thousand. France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy are the countries with the highest number of applications

(Photo: Nasa)

The road is long, but the journey of the next ones astronaut and the next astronauts of the European Space Agency (ESA) is already in full swing. In fact, the agency today announced the first results relating to competition for the search for new personnel to be sent to the Space. The selection it is long – after an initial screening phase of the applications received, it includes a series of psychological, practical, medical tests and interviews – and will end with the announcement of new ESA members only at the end of next year. But certainly there is no shortage of candidates: the answer to competition Esa was unbelievable compared to the last call from the agency, in 2008, almost three times as much: over 22,500 compared to 8,400 at the time. The countries that have come forward most are France (overall leads the ranking, with over 7 thousand applications), Germany (3.700), UK (just under 2 thousand) and to follow theItaly (1.860).

The numbers released during the first press conference on the new ESA selection, not only confirm that, to use the words of the ESA director general Josef Aschbacher, that of the astronaut is still a dream job, but that female participation is also much higher than in the past: 5.400 gives it candidate, against less than the 1,300 of the last competition (from which, we recall, ours was selected Samantha Cristoforetti, next to command of the International Space Station in its new mission). “It is good to see an increase in the gender distribution of candidates and female candidates in this selection – commented David Parker, ESA director of Human and Robotic Exploration – but the numbers also show that there is still a lot to do to achieve a gender balance in the space sector “. Instead, 257 applications came from disabled people (including 60 women). In fact, the ESA competition was born with the intent to make the space more and more accessible, also opening the doors to people with physical disabilities.

From all these questions will have to come out of quattro ai six new astronauts, an astronaut with physical disability and up to twenty reserves. What will they do? The agenda in the short and medium term (from now to around 2040) for space exploration is tight: in addition to the activities of the Space Station, the next astronauts will be grappling with the Cislunar space station project Lunar Gateway, the exploration of lunar surface and beyond: that of the neighbor Mars.

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