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Raumfahrt - ESA’s astronaut class of 2022 graduate

23.04.2024

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Today ESA celebrated the graduation of its class of 2022 astronaut candidates. The ceremony, held at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, signified the successful completion of basic training for the five European astronaut graduates and the Australian Space Agency’s first astronaut, all now eligible for spaceflight assignments.

The new graduates ESA astronauts are Sophie Adenot, Pablo Álvarez Fernández, Rosemary Coogan, Raphaël Liégeois and Marco Sieber. Also, as testament to ESA’s commitment in international collaboration, Katherine Bennell-Pegg from the Australian Space Agency graduated with her fellow ESA classmates.

“Today is a significant milestone as we celebrate the graduation of a new class of five ESA astronauts, who are now qualified to be assigned to future spaceflights. I am also proud to witness the graduation of an Australian astronaut candidate, which reaffirms our dedication to advancing international cooperation in space exploration. The addition of fresh talent and diverse perspectives and expertise enhances our ability to navigate the complexities of space exploration and solidifies ESA's role as a pioneering force in shaping our future in space,” said ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.

Selected for training in 2022 at the ESA Ministerial Council, the astronaut candidates commenced their basic training in April 2023, first at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre and then across the globe. They completed a comprehensive one-year training programme covering essential skills such as spacecraft systems, spacewalking, flight engineering, robotics and life support systems, as well as survival and medical training.

After certification, assigned ESA astronauts from the new class will move on to the next phases of pre-assignment and mission-specific training, paving the way for future missions to the International Space Station and beyond.

ESA received an overwhelming response to its call for applications, with more than 22 500 candidates from ESA Member States. From this pool, 17 individuals were chosen to form the astronaut class of 2022, including 12 members of the ESA astronaut reserve and five astronaut candidates who have completed their basic training.

ESA also established a reserve pool of astronauts for the first time in 2022. Comprised of candidates who excelled throughout the selection process, this reserve pool stands ready to be called upon for project astronaut roles as flight opportunities arise. The first among those was Marcus Wandt, who flew on the Axiom-3 mission in January this year.

ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration Daniel Neuenschwander said, “As the basic training is successfully completed by our new ESA astronauts, we embark on a new era in European astronaut history. These five new members of the European astronaut corps, alongside the members of the reserve, underscore our dedication to fostering talent and maximising opportunities for space exploration. We are poised to embark on a new era of collaborative endeavours, pushing the boundaries of discovery and shaping the future of space exploration.”

Additionally, one member of the reserve pool is participating in the “Fly! Feasibility Study”, which explores options for the inclusion of astronauts with physical disabilities in human spaceflight missions and future endeavours.

The class of 2022 astronaut graduates in their own words

ESA astronaut Sophie Adenot

“Becoming an astronaut has been a lifelong dream, and completing basic training is just the beginning of an extraordinary journey. With previous experiences that have shaped me, I've faced challenges that have prepared me for the rigors of space exploration. I'm honoured to bring my background and enthusiasm to a team dedicated to pushing the boundaries of human capability in space, the most challenging and hostile environment there is.”

ESA astronaut Pablo Álvarez Fernández

“Completing basic astronaut training has been an extraordinary journey of personal growth. I'm deeply grateful for the invaluable lessons learned from the best in the field and thrilled to play a role in shaping the future of space exploration. As an ESA astronaut representing Spain, I am honoured to join the lineage of pioneers like Pedro Duque. This opportunity fills me with immense pride, and I'm excited to elevate our shared passion for space to unprecedented heights.”

ESA astronaut Rosemary Coogan

“Graduating from astronaut basic training is an incredibly moving moment for me. From dreaming about space to now being one step closer to reaching it, I'm filled with gratitude and determination to make the most of this extraordinary opportunity. I’m proud to share this moment with my fellow astronaut graduates and of the commitment of our international team to exploration. Together, we stand ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, united by our shared passion for space.”

ESA astronaut Raphaël Liégeois

“Completing basic astronaut training has been an intense experience, highlighting the importance of teamwork and continuous learning. I'm excited to apply these lessons as I embark on the next phase of my journey. I'm eager to contribute to the ongoing journey of discovery and scientific advancement, inspired by Belgium's steadfast dedication to the exploration of the new frontiers.”

ESA astronaut Marco Sieber

“As I stand on the threshold of a new chapter in my life, I am humbled by the challenges and triumphs of basic astronaut training. I'm ready to being part of the collective effort of exploring our universe for the benefit of life on Earth and for future generations, as well as contributing to Switzerland’s participation in the emergence, consolidation and expansion of European space cooperation.”

Australian Space Agency astronaut Katherine Bennell-Pegg

“When I dreamed of becoming an astronaut as a child, I never thought it possible to do so representing Australia. Now, we have the Australian Space Agency and a growing space sector which can really benefit from the knowledge and insights I have gained during training with ESA. I'm incredibly determined to make the most of this past year, and whatever follows, to generate further opportunities for Australian industry, and the aspirations of everyone back home. Partnering with ESA has been a remarkable opportunity to not only contribute to our shared goals but also to foster collaboration on a global scale, which is essential for the future of space exploration.”

Quelle: ESA

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