Applicants from all ESA Member States to become European astronauts

Schlegel's first spacewalk
23 June 2008

ESA began its search for new astronauts on 19 May, calling for applications from talented individuals who wish to join the European Astronaut Corps.

Almost 10 000 individuals registered to begin the application process. At the close of the application phase which lasted a month, 8413 aspiring astronauts provided a medical certificate and finalised the online application form. This qualifies them for the next step in the selection process.

Details
Most of the applications were received from France (22.1%) and Germany (21.4%) followed by Italy (11.0%), the United Kingdom (9.8%) and Spain (9.4%). 16% of the total of applications were submitted by women. Further details are in the table below.

ESA astronaut recruitment campaign 2008
Total number of applicants at the closure of the application period

Country No. of applicants % of total applicants as 2nd citizenship* Men** Women**
Austria 210 2.5% 8 195 23
Belgium 253 3.0% 8 224 37
Denmark 35 0.4% 4 34 5
Finland 336 4.0% 5 283 58
France 1860 22.1% 58 1616 302
Germany 1798 21.4% 35 1523 310
Greece 159 1.9% 14 152 21
Ireland 128 1.5% 11 110 29
Italy 927 11.0% 39 815 151
Luxembourg 14 0.2% 0 14 0
Norway 74 0.9% 2 67 9
Other 72 0.9% 309 301 80
Portugal 210 2.5% 10 192 28
Spain 789 9.4% 21 707 103
Sweden 172 2.0% 9 156 25
Switzerland 351 4.2% 26 325 52
The Netherlands 203 2.4% 2 175 30
United Kingdom 822 9.8% 42 697 167
Total 8413 100.0% 603 7586 1430

* number of applicants having stated this country as their 2nd citizenship
** number of applicants being a citizen of this country either as unique or 2nd citizenship

The Astronaut Selection Team, based at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, now has the challenging task to select the best applicants. Those who make it through this first selection can soon expect to receive a letter inviting them to participate in the next stage - the psychological testing.

Psychological testing

"We now have a large number of highly qualified applicants. I am confident that we will find the outstanding individuals we are looking for. This will be ensured by the next selection steps, starting with a first round of psychological testing," said Michel Tognini, Head of the European Astronaut Centre.

Those tests aim to identify the psychological and technical skills of the applicants, who will be tested in different fields including visual memory and psychomotor aptitude.

“I am very pleased that we have received so many applications stemming from all our 17 ESA Member States,” says Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight. “This shows that the strong commitment for Human Spaceflight and Exploration, which ESA and its Member States demonstrated in holding the first astronaut selection after more than 15 years, is met by an equally strong interest from European citizens.”

To ISS and beyond

This campaign is ESA's first astronaut selection since 1992, providing the opportunity to be at the forefront of ESA’s human spaceflight programmes, including future missions to the ISS and beyond.

For more information:

Jean Coisne, Head of EAC Communications & PR Office
Communication and Knowledge Department
Tel: +49 2203 6001 113

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