The European Space Agency is recruiting a new class of astronauts to travel to the International Space Station and beyond.
There are four to six vacancies for career astronauts and up to a further 20 for reserve astronauts. ESA is keen to hire a diverse set of people to be its newest ambassadors.
“Diversity is not a burden for us. Diversity is an asset for us,” said Jan Wörner, Director General of ESA. “As an equal opportunity employer, it is very important to have diversity as it helps us to make things better. We would in particular encourage women to apply, because it is really interesting and supportive if we have mixed teams.”
It’s not only gender diversity that ESA is encouraging. There is one vacancy for a parastronaut: an astronaut who meets all the usual criteria, but has a physical disability that would ordinarily prevent them from applying.
Here’s everything you need to know to apply.
What qualifications do I need to be an astronaut?
ESA ask that, as a minimum, applicants have a Master’s degree in the natural sciences, medicine, engineering, mathematics or computer sciences. A degree as an experimental test pilot or test engineer is also accepted. A PhD an asset, but is not required.
As well as a degree, applicants should have at least three years of postgraduate professional experience in a relevant field, such as working in a laboratory or hospital, or doing field research.
What qualities and skills do I need?
Aspiring astronauts will need to demonstrate a range of skills and qualities. They should:
- Be able to remain calm under pressure
- Be willing to participate in life science experiments
- Be fluent in English – good knowledge of other languages is an asset
- Be highly motivated
- Be comfortable with long absences from home and long working hours and be flexible with working location
- Have excellent fine motor skills
- Be able to rapidly absorb complex information and make informed decisions
- Be passionate about sharing their knowledge to engage wide audiences.
How do I apply?
Applications open the ESA careers website on 31 March 2021, and close on 28 May.
Applicants will be asked to submit a CV, motivation letter, and a copy of their passport. They will also be required to submit a European Part-MED, Class 2 (Private Pilot) medical certificate issued by an aviation medical examiner or aeromedical centre.
Those with a physical disability will instead need a medical certificate stating that, if not for their disability, they would comply with the medical requirements of the European Part-MED, Class 2 (Private Pilot) medical certificate.
The selection process has six stages, which will be completed in October 2022.
What will the astronauts do?
The first missions for this class of astronauts will be on board the International Space Station. But after that, there is the possibility of travelling to the Lunar Gateway orbiter and even the surface of the Moon.