European space chiefs have launched their first recruitment trip for new astronauts in 11 years, with a special emphasis on encouraging women and people with disabilities to join missions to the moon and eventually to Mars.
The European Space Agency (ESA) announced on Tuesday that it is looking to increase its range of crews as it goes through the replacement of up to 26 permanent astronauts and reservists.
But the ESA warned that it expects a “very high number” of applications to arrive during the eight-week recruitment period starting March 31, saying that candidates will have to endure a difficult selection process that will last until October 2022.
“Candidates need to be mentally prepared for this process,” Lucy van der Tasse, head of ESA’s talent acquisition, told a news conference.
Italian astronaut Samantha Christoporti said adapting a technology that allowed humans to be in space could open up an opportunity for people with disabilities.
“When it comes to space travel, we are all disabled,” Christoporti added.
Requirements for the position of astronaut at ESA include a master’s degree in natural sciences, engineering, mathematics or computer science and three years of postgraduate experience.
“I think this is a great opportunity … it will be an opportunity to learn a lot about yourself,” Christoporti said.
It came when human spaceflight seemed to be about to be revived.
After years in which the only launch site for manned spaceflight was Baconon in the Kazakh steppes, collaboration with private companies like SpaceX has raised opportunities for more human missions.