Diversity in space at the forefront as ESA announces new astronauts

The European Space Agency has announced the first generation of new astronauts in over a decade (Credit: ESA)

The European Space Agency has announced the first generation of new astronauts in over a decade (Credit: ESA)

The European Space Agency has unveiled the next generation of astronauts after its first recruitment campaign in over a decade.

When it launched last year, over 22,000 applicants signed up with hopes of escaping the surly bonds of Earth.

Now, Europe’s response to NASA has unveiled the Astronaut Class of 2022, which includes professional astronauts, members of the astronaut reserve and astronauts with a physical disability for a feasibility project.

Two of those chosen, Rosemary Coogan and John McFall, hail from the UK.

ESA specifically looked for people with physical disabilities in a unique attempt to determine what adaptations would be needed to space stations to accommodate them.

McFall won a bronze medal in the 100m at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and will participate in the Parastronaut Feasibility Project to improve understanding and overcoming the barriers that space travel poses for astronauts with a physical disability.

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According to ESA, no major Western space agency has ever sent a paratronaut into space.

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti said, “We didn’t evolve to go into space, so we’re all handicapped when it comes to space travel.

“What makes us go from disability to space is just technology.

“This is a feasibility study and we’re going to look at what exactly is needed and how much it will cost – but that’s the goal.”

ESA received 22,523 applications from people who wanted to become astronauts (Credit: ESA)

ESA received 22,523 applications from people who wanted to become astronauts (Credit: ESA)

Dan Huot, a spokesman for NASA’s Johnson Space Center, home of the American agency’s astronaut corps, said: “We at NASA are following ESA’s paraastronaut selection process with great interest.”

ESA’s groundbreaking recruitment campaign did not specifically address ethnic diversity, instead emphasizing the importance of “representing all segments of our society”.

The European agency received applications from all 25 member states and associate members, although most came from France, Germany, the UK and Italy.

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At the two-day ESA Council held Tuesday-Wednesday in Paris, France, Germany and Italy on Tuesday announced an agreement on a new-generation European space rocket project, as part of apparent efforts to align better with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and other rocket programs in to be able to compete with the US US and China.

What does it take to be an astronaut?

An astronaut walking on the moon, rear view, low section

These astronauts could one day walk on the moon (Getty)

Nasa recently outlined some of the preferred skills for would-be moonwalkers.

Apparently you need technical and operational skills as well as “having fun” and team players.

Those are the soft skills.

Some of the more elite requirements include a master’s degree in a STEM field from an accredited institution, or a two-year doctorate in a related field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

Alternatively, you could get by with a doctor of medicine or a doctor of osteopathic medicine. If none of this appeals to you, Nasa will also consider anyone who has completed a state-approved test pilot school program.

MORE: Nasa’s Artemis spacecraft reaches the moon after a series of amazing selfies

MORE: 8 SpaceX employees say they were fired for speaking out against Elon Musk

https://metro.co.uk/2022/11/23/diversity-in-space-at-the-forefront-as-esa-announces-new-astronauts-17815222/ Diversity in space at the forefront as ESA announces new astronauts

Justin Scacco

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