The ESA astronaut selection has been progressing as planned, with phase two of the selection process ending in March this year, and phase three ending in June.
During phase three, just over 400 applicants attended ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, for thorough psychological assessment by an international team of experts. Though the precise tasks and tests are confidential, this phase was designed to ensure that selected candidates met the psychological profile required to work as an astronaut.
Phase four of the selection process began on 2 May 2022 and is ongoing. During this round of selection, applicants will have a medical evaluation which assesses their health and physical capabilities. Working as an astronaut is physically demanding, requiring stamina, dexterity and more. This assessment ensures selected candidates are capable of keeping up with the physical effort required by this position, both on Earth and in space.
The medical assessment has also been expanded to include applicants for the astronaut with a physical disability position, for whom the typical physical requirements would be a barrier to selection. In this first instance of ‘parastronaut’ recruitment, those with lower limb deficiency and/or those with statures below 130 cm are being considered. ESA is committed to pursuing a vision of space for all, and looks forward to what will be learned from the ‘Parastronaut Fly!’ Feasibility Project.
Invitations for the final phase, during which applicants will participate in panel interviews, will be issued this summer.
In 2021, ESA opened applications for the roles of astronaut and astronaut with a physical disability. This was the first call for new astronaut applicants since 2008.
In response, ESA received more than 22 000 valid applications for the role of astronaut from across Member States and Associate Members. Of those, 1361 individuals were invited to participate in phase two of the selection process. For the role of astronaut with a physical disability, 257 applications were received, 27 of which were invited to phase two.
Final applicants are expected to be selected at the end of 2022.
ESA thanks all applicants for their interest and commitment.