Their number was 22,000, and there will be no more than six left: the names of the European Space Agency (ESA) astronauts will be revealed on Wednesday afternoon, while the 22 ESA member states, including the ministers responsible for space, are gathered in Paris.
In March 2021, the European Space Agency launched a massive recruitment campaign to select its new astronauts, who will have the opportunity to be on the International Space Station.
In 2008, during ESA’s previous recruitment wave, more than 8,000 candidates applied. Only six, including Thomas Pesquet, were selected the following year.
A third of the French are among the candidates
This time, 22,523 people applied, including almost a third of the French (7,087 candidates), and the first group was ahead of Germany (3,695) and the United Kingdom (2,000). 1361 applicants, including 404 French, were allowed to participate in the second stage of the selection process.
In the end, between four and six people will be selected, after a long selection process (medical and psychological tests, interviews, etc.).
A French or Frenchwoman could be one of the winners invited to fly into orbit, on the International Space Station (ISS) at first – the few places for future lunar missions will be reserved for the previous generation already experienced in lower orbital stays.
Training will start next year.
For newcomers, training will begin in April 2023 at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany.
At the same time, the European Space Agency will present one or more astronauts with a physical disability, with whom a “feasibility study” will be carried out on accommodation in space. the first.
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