European Space Agency on the hunt for new astronauts

Nina Massey, PA Science Correspondent

The European Space Agency (ESA) is on the hunt for new astronauts for the first time in 11 years.

These recruits will work alongside the ESA’s existing astronauts as Europe enters a new era of space exploration.

The agency is strongly encouraging women to apply as it seeks to expand gender diversity in its ranks.

The vacancy runs from March 31 to May 28 and the ESA will only consider applications submitted to its career website within those eight weeks.

After that, the six-stage selection process will start, which is expected to be completed in October 2022.

ESA director general Jan Woerner, said: “Thanks to a strong mandate from ESA member states at Space19+, our Ministerial Council in 2019, Europe is taking its place at the heart of space exploration.

“To go farther than we ever have before, we need to look wider than we ever have before.

“This recruitment process is the first step and I look forward to watching the agency develop across all areas of space exploration and innovation, with our international partners, in the years to come.”

David Parker, ESA director of human and robotic exploration, said: “Representing all parts of our society is a concern that we take very seriously.

“Diversity at ESA should not only address the origin, age, background or gender of our astronauts, but also perhaps physical disabilities.

“To make this dream a reality, alongside the astronaut recruitment I am launching the Parastronaut Feasibility Project – an innovation whose time has come.”

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