Team forming a line and looking towards a camera.

The ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ Opportunity for Aspiring Astronauts

The European Space Agency (ESA) has extended the deadline to apply to be one of their new astronauts. ESA is seeking to recruit 26 astronauts in hopes to attract a more diverse cohort. The agency are encouraging women from all backgrounds and people with some disabilities. Diversifying their workforce has taken a real forefront within the agency over past few years. ESA’s director general Jan Wörner has said: “Diversity is not a burden for us. Diversity is an asset.”

Aspiring astronauts with disabilities are being urged to apply after the agency opened a “parastronaut feasibility project to assess the conditions for including astronauts with disabilities to work in space”. The project includes people who have issues with their lower limbs, as well as those shorter than 1.3m (4ft 3in).

Competition for the roles is extremely high with only 6 astronauts being selected from more than 8000 candidates in 2009, according to Wörner. The extension to the deadline, introduced to give Lithuanians a fair chance to apply, means applications can be submitted until 18 June 2021.

Women in science

Female scientists Lucy Rogers and Sinéad O’Sullivan have set up a group for ‘women supporting women’ in the application process on Twitter. The group offers reassurance about what should be mentioned in their cover letters and CVs as well as many other top tips on how to give yourself the best shot at succeeding!

As the call for women astronauts continues, the first European female commander Samantha Cristoforetti is preparing for her upcoming mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will launch in 2022 from Florida, USA and it will be Samantha’s second mission in space after Futura in 2015. Samantha said “I am humbled by my appointment to the position of commander and look forward to drawing on the experience I’ve gained in space and on Earth to lead a very capable team in orbit.”

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