ESA has started this month a new selection process for future astronauts, aspiring to explore the Moon and Mars. The call will open from March 31 on the agency’s official employment portal. Europe is taking its place at the center of space exploration. To go further than ever, we need to broaden our sights like never before,” said Jan Worner, director of the European agency. Diversity at ESA should not only apply to the origin, age, training or gender of our astronauts, perhaps also to physical disabilities,” says ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker.
This is the first call for new astronauts in eleven years. The agency will give more details as of February 16, when they have called a press conference. NASA wants to send the first travelers to Mars This call from ESA comes at a time when the American agency is preparing to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon with the Artemis program. This project, according to NASA, will help prepare humanity for the next great leap: sending astronauts to Mars. America is now closer than at any time in history since the Apollo program to returning astronauts to the Moon. We will send the first woman and the next man to the lunar South Pole in 2024, and we require more astronauts to follow their example on the Moon, and then Mars, “explained former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
To do this, NASA sought out “talented” men and women from “diverse origins”, that is, from very different disciplines, to be part of the Artemis program, a profile similar to what they are now seeking at ESA. From the organization, they point out that by mid-2021 they could finish the selection so that the training can begin. As reported on their website, in the previous selection process (between March 2 and 31, 2020) more than 12,000 people applied to be an astronaut. How should an astronaut be? What are the ESA requirements? We don’t know yet, but we can take a look at what NASA is asking for, for example. Of the thousands of applications, only a few are finally chosen for the intensive astronaut candidate training program, although the profiles that are chosen are increasingly varied.
Among others, teachers, doctors, scientists, and engineers, can become astronauts.
In an interview on ‘National Geographic’, Anne Roemer, NASA’s astronaut selection director, explained how this process unfolds and what it takes a person to become an astronaut. The thousands of applicants pass several screenings, and they are reduced depending on whether or not they pass the different interviews. Afterward, they organize a week in which candidates perform “teamwork exercises, individual performance exercises and several more tests to assess whether they have the competencies” that NASA seeks, explains Roemer. In addition to the studies completed (it is already mandatory to have a master’s degree to be an astronaut), the recruiters pay attention to unique things: “We offer applicants a section to tell us about their hobbies and interests, and there are people who have made everything, whether running 25 marathons or completing 300 scuba dives, “Roemer says in the interview.