ESA selects six of the best
With the International Space Station (ISS) now almost complete, Europe’s human spaceflight programme is looking to the future. On 20 May 2009, ESA announced the six winners of a year-long competition to find the next generation of astronauts. The newcomers will now join the European Astronaut Corps and start training to prepare for future missions to the ISS, and beyond. They are the first new recruits to join the European Astronaut Corps since 1992.
The class of 2009, all in their thirties, includes:
1. Samantha Cristoforetti (Italian), a fighter pilot with the Italian Air Force.
All of the newcomers are extremely fit and enjoy active leisure pursuits such as mountaineering, swimming, scuba diving, climbing and skydiving.
The search for talented individuals who wanted to join the European Astronaut Corps began in May 2008. More than 8,400 people sent in application forms. Over the following months, the applicants were carefully screened until the six outstanding candidates remained. The rookie astronauts will start their basic training at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. They will also join a new class of international astronauts who will be prepared for missions to the International Space Station from 2013 onwards. It is also likely that many of them will one day fly to the Moon.