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European Space Agency reduces hopeful astronaut applications from 23,000 to 1,391

The European Space Agency has reduced more than 23,000 aspiring astronaut applications to a shortlist of 1,391 that could potentially fly to space and the moon.

ESA is looking for a new cohort of six space travelers who will spend time on the International Space Station and maybe one day land on the moon's surface.

The agency has not said where in Europe the nominated candidates are from, but during the last round, 1,900 of the 23,000 who applied were from the UK.

The British Space Agency confirmed that there are British candidates among the shortlist, but could not say who they were or how many had advanced to the next stage, where the remaining will undergo further testing.

Of the successful candidates for the next round, 39 per cent were women and 61 per cent men, according to ESA, with 29 'parastronauts' out of 287 on the list.

The call for applicants was made in March 2021 and ESA says it has taken longer than expected to curtail it due to 'a large volume and caliber of applications'.

The final announcement on the six full-time astronauts, any 'parastronauts' and up to 20 reservists will be made in the autumn, the space agency said.

The European Space Agency has reduced more than 23,000 hopeful astronaut applications to a shortlist of 1,391 that could potentially fly to space and the moon

The European Space Agency has reduced more than 23,000 hopeful astronaut applications to a shortlist of 1,391 that could potentially fly to space and the moon

If one of the British candidates succeeds, they will be the third British astronaut after Helen Sharman and Tim Peake - who was the first British ESA astronaut

If one of the British candidates succeeds, they will be the third British astronaut after Helen Sharman and Tim Peake - who was the first British ESA astronaut

ESA astronaut criteria

To be eligible to submit an application, a person must:

  • Has a master's degree (or higher) in science, medicine, engineering, mathematics or computer science
  • OR be qualified as an experimental test pilot
  • Be fluent in English
  • Has a good knowledge of another language
  • Be calm under pressure and be willing to participate in life science experiments
  • Be flexible about the workplace

The first round of testing for the 1,391 candidates who have passed through focuses on psychological performance, including cognitive, technical, motor coordination and personality tests, taken over the course of an entire day.

For successful graduates, this will be followed by a set of psychological interviews and group tests - after which medical testing begins.

Candidates who have passed each of the selection stages will be invited to recruitment interviews with senior ESA officials.

In addition to six full-time professional astronauts, ESA is looking for up to 20 'reservists' who may be working at a university and are ready to go into space if asked.

About 24 percent of all applicants to ESA's astronaut selection were women, but women made up 39 percent of those who reached the next round.

"Those who went on to the next phase of ESA's astronaut selection were selected based on the strength of their application, not their gender," ESA said.

The agency's head of space medicine Guillaume Weerts thanked all 23,000 people for applying to become astronauts.

'We would really like to thank everyone who has applied for this selection process, both those who are continuing and those who want to leave us at this time.

'Thank you for your patience and for all the work you have put into your applications. We were very impressed with the quality of applicants. '

ESA HR business partner Antonella Costa agreed, saying it was a very competitive process and that just meeting the criteria to apply is 'something to be proud of'.

Just to apply for the role, a candidate should either be qualified as an experimental test pilot and or have a master's degree or higher in science, medicine, engineering, mathematics or computer science.

ESA is looking for a new cohort of six space travelers who will spend time on the International Space Station and maybe one day land on the moon's surface

ESA is looking for a new cohort of six space travelers who will spend time on the International Space Station and maybe one day land on the moon's surface

PARASTRONAUT: ESA IS LOOKING FOR OTHER FUNCTIONING CANDIDATE

The European Space Agency is looking for a parastronaut who can travel to the ISS in the future.

The selected person will join the reserve crew while ESA works with partners to find a safe way to travel.

Persons with missing feet or lower legs, either from amputation or birth defects, are eligible, as are persons shorter than 130 cm (4ft 3in).

Tim Peake says he 'would not have any reservations about traveling to space with a disabled person'.

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti said we 'did not evolve to be in space'.

She said we 'are all handicapped in space' and that it is only about perfecting the technology to take graduates who would otherwise be selected to be astronauts if it were not for a handicap.

"While not everyone can become an astronaut, there are many other ways you can support Europe in space," Costa said.

"We strongly encourage people to visit our career website and see how they could otherwise apply their skills and follow their passion with ESA."

Applications to become an astronaut closed on June 18, 2021, and the total number of applications was 23,000 from 8,413 in 2008, when the applications were last opened.

If one of the British candidates succeeds, they will be the third British astronaut after Helen Sharman and Tim Peake - who was the first British ESA astronaut.

Peake is expected to return to the ISS in the coming years so that the successful candidates can be sent to the station at the same time.

ESA's astronaut selection process consists of six key phases, the first of which we have just entered - screening thousands of candidates for less than 2,000.

Candidates will be informed at the end of each step as to whether their application has succeeded in proceeding to the next step.

ESA has secured three astronaut trips to the NASA Lunar Gateway to be built in orbit around the moon, and hopes to be able to send Europeans to the surface of our natural satellite in the future.

'Astronauts will fly farther from Earth than anyone has ever been' when they go to the Gateway, as it will be farther from Earth than the Moon, says Frank De Winne of ESA's astronaut training center.

ESA says the number of applicants far exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts, describing it as a positive indication of interest in space activities

ESA says the number of applicants far exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts, describing it as a positive indication of interest in space activities

France had the highest number of applications with 7,137, and a quarter of all applicants were women, up from 15 percent during the last round in 2008. The lighter the color in this graphic, the more applications from that country.

France had the highest number of applications with 7,137, and a quarter of all applicants were women, up from 15 percent during the last round in 2008. The lighter the color in this graphic, the more applications from that country.

'The first five to ten years will see astronauts fly to the ISS, but then there will be opportunities to fly to the moon and beyond the moon.'

It is believed that this cohort of ESA astronauts, like the Artemis generation of NASA astronauts, could one day stand on the surface of Mars.

NASA plans to send astronauts to the red planet as early as 2035, and the European Space Agency may be part of that mission.

A spokesman for the UK Space Agency said they were hoping the next professional British astronaut would emerge from 'this grueling selection process'.

'They are now facing a challenging psychological assessment before they can move on to the next phase of medical tests.

"The British space sector continues to grow rapidly, and while it's a dream for many people to be an astronaut, there are a number of potential career paths out there to explore."

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