The last recruitment of the European Space Agency was in 2008 and there is a conclusion drawn from this new astronaut recruitment, there is a great demand for this profession. In 2008 there were a total of 8413 candidates for this function, and this year there was an increase of 268%, with a total of 22589 applications from people from the 25 Member States and associates of the agency.
Another very interesting part of these numbers is the number of women candidates, which had a large increase to 5,419, when 12 years ago it had been 1287, and which represents almost a quarter of current candidates, with the vast majority being men as usual. . For the first time, there is also a space for a para-astronaut, for someone with a physical disability, such as height less than 1.30 meters or a disability in the lower limbs. ESA received more than 200 applications, with the aim of testing the challenges of space flight for people who do not fit the usual profile of this role.
Looking at Portugal, I follow the increases, with the ESA receiving 317 Portuguese candidates, 61 women, which means an increase from the 210 Portuguese candidates there were in 2008. It should be noted that there are between 4 to 6 places for astronauts to join to the current seven astronauts who belong to the team.
The chosen astronauts will begin training for future missions on the International Space Station, such as to the Moon and for the future Lunar Gateway, which is expected to be built in the next few years and will serve as a basis for further voyages.
At this time, ESA will check candidates’ CVs and verify that they meet the requirements (See well, listen well, be over five feet tall and under five feet, under 50 years old, be in excellent shape physics and mastering English). After that, candidates will have six selection phases, such as cognitive tests, technical tests, motor coordination tests, individual and group tests, medical exams and, at the end, an interview phase.
It is estimated that only in October 2022 will the candidates who will join the astronaut team be announced, and 20 reserves will also be selected.
Of the seven active astronauts on ESA service, two are Italian (including Samantha Cristoforetti, the only woman), two German, one English, one Dane and one French.