While many children grow up dreaming of becoming astronauts, very few people see that dream become a reality.
This week, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced the first new group of astronauts in nearly 15 years.
The new astronauts have some impressive credentials to their names, among them a former Paralympian, a helicopter test pilot, and a neuroscientist.
So, do you have what it takes to become a professional astronaut? Here, MailOnline reveals the main criteria an ESA needs to consider.
Do you have what it takes to become a professional astronaut? Here, MailOnline reveals the main criteria an ESA needs to consider
Meet the new group of astronauts from the European Space Agency
- Rosemary Cogan – UK
- Sophie Adinot – France
- Pablo Alvarez Fernandez – Spain
- Raphael Leygua – Belgium
- Marco Siber – Switzerland
- Megan Christian – UK
- Nicola Winter – Germany
- Marcus Wandt – Sweden
- Anthea Comellini – Italy
- Sara Garcia Alonso – Spain
- Andrea Batassa – Italy
- Carmen Bosnig – Austria
- Arnaud Prost – France
- Emily Schoenenwald – Germany
- Ales Svoboda – Czech Republic
- Slawosz Uznański – POLAND
An astronaut with a physical disability
From more than 22,500 applicants, the European Space Agency has selected five professional astronauts, 11 astronaut reservists, and one “parastronaut”.
“Today we welcome the 17 members of the new Astronaut Class of 2022,” said Josef Ashbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency.
“ESA’s astronaut class brings ambition, talent and versatility in many different forms – to drive our endeavors and our future.”
The ESA describes itself as an “equal opportunity employer,” and says that “anyone who meets the requirements” can apply.
However, its requirements are not entirely clear.
ESA will only consider applications from nationals of an ESA Member State or Associate Member State.
These are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. Kingdom plus Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Applicants must have at least a master’s degree from a recognized academic institution in natural sciences, medicine, engineering, or mathematics/computer science.
They must then have a minimum of three years of professional experience under their belt upon graduation.
ESA states that “a doctoral degree or equivalent, or additional master’s degrees in the fields listed above, is an asset.”
Alternatively, applicants may pursue a degree as an experimental test pilot and/or test engineer.
This week, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced the first new group of astronauts in nearly 15 years
Shooting for the stars: Three Britons – including the first ‘Parastronout’ – are among the first new group of astronauts for the European Space Agency in nearly 15 years. John McFall (pictured), Rosemary Coogan and Meganne Christian are selected in a class of 17
Applicants must meet a range of requirements to be considered. This includes:
- Willing to perform strenuous physical activities, including walking, running, lifting heavy objects, and crawling
- Ready to submit a swim test
- Willing to undergo zero gravity flight training
- Willing to spend a long time training underwater to simulate microgravity
- You possess or wish to obtain a valid driver’s license
- Able to work in a team
- Experience in dangerous situations
Members of ESA’s new astronaut class Megan Christian (second left), John McFall (second right) and Rosemary Cogan (right) pose with astronaut Tim Peake (left)
Applicants must be able to speak and write English very well, while a good knowledge of another foreign language is an ‘advantage’.
Speaking Russian is an advantage, but not a requirement. The European Space Agency explained that this is the second official language on the International Space Station and is taught during astronaut training.
Unfortunately for older aspiring astronauts, the European Space Agency has an upper age limit.
“Each space mission represents a very high investment for all stakeholders involved,” it explains on its website.
For this reason, and to ensure that every inducted astronaut can perform at least two missions while working with ESA before retiring, ESA is required to set an upper age limit of 50.
It’s no surprise that you’re in top condition to be an ESA astronaut. Pictured: Tim Peake before boarding a Soyuz TMA-19M rocket to launch Expedition 46 to the International Space Station in 2015
It’s no surprise that you’re in top condition to be an ESA astronaut.
“Being an astronaut is physically and mentally demanding, with long periods away from family and friends, a high workload and erratic working hours, and routines outside of the comfort zone,” says the ESA.
“The well-being of the astronaut, along with the well-being of the entire team, is a condition for the success of every mission.”
Applicants must be free from any disease or mental disorders, show cognitive, mental and interpersonal abilities, and have 20/20 vision either normally or after correction with glasses or contact lenses.
No hearing impairment is also allowed, “to ensure radio contact with the ground for safety reasons”.
The European Space Agency also has strict height requirements for astronauts, who must be between 150cm and 190cm tall (4 ft 11 in and 6 ft 2.8 ft).
However, for this round of applicants, the European Space Agency opened up the opportunity for people under 130 cm (4 ft 3′) tall for the first time, to fill the position of “astronaut with a physical disability”.
Parastronaut: The European Space Agency is looking for a different candidate
The European Space Agency is looking for a Parastronnaut that can travel to the International Space Station in the future.
The person selected will join the reserve crew while the European Space Agency works with partners to find a safe way to travel.
People who have lost their feet or lower legs, whether from amputation or birth defects, are eligible, as are people under 130 cm (4 ft 3 in).
Tim Peake says he “will not have any space travel reservations with a person with a disability.”
“We didn’t evolve to be in space,” said ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
We’re all disabled in space, she said, and it’s just a case of perfecting the technology to take on candidates who would be selected to be astronauts if not for the disability.