Want to become an astronaut? The European Space Agency is recruiting for the first time in 11 years
Sylvie Claire / April 13, 2021
Belgium hopes that this call for applications, open until May 28, will encourage vocations in space and, more broadly, in science, especially among women, who are still under-represented in these sectors.
On April 12, 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made the first flight into space. Sixty years later, after Dirk Frimout in 1992 and Frank De Winne in 2002, Belgium hopes to see an astronaut wearing a black-yellow-red badge in the vastness of space.
4 to 6 astronauts wanted and up to 20 reservists
And reaching for the stars is not as unattainable as it seems: four to six astronauts will be recruited by ESA, while between 10 and 20 reserve astronauts will also be hired, a first, underlines Frank De Winne, head of the European Astronaut Centre.
People with physical disabilities are encouraged to apply for this reserve, although space vehicles are not yet adapted.
Candidates must have a Master's degree and at least three years of experience in the natural sciences, medicine, engineering, mathematics or computer science. Fluency in English is imperative, other languages are an asset.
We have set the age limit at 50 in order to offer at least two flights to these new astronauts and allow them to evolve, underlines Frank De Winne, taking the example of the Frenchman Thomas Pesquet who became at 43 years old commander of the International Space Station (ISS). All our astronauts will fly , insists the Belgian.
The best way to prepare for this unusual selection? Believe in yourself, eat healthy and exercise, Frank De Winne answers simply. Don't tell yourself you're not good enough for this, as women often tell themselves, adds Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in a message released Monday to future candidates, who are usually fewer in number to apply.
Interested candidates, whose nationality corresponds to one of the 22 countries represented in ESA, can apply online at www.esa.int until May 28. The recruitment process will take approximately one and a half years and is confidential.