This year, ESA, The European Space Agency, has been looking for new astronauts, and the response has been big. Approximately 23,000 people have applied for the program, which represents more than a doubling compared the figure during the previous recruitment in 2008.
The number of women who applied has also increased by more than 400 percent. In this year's recruitment, ESA has made a historic decision to also accept applications from people with physical disabilities with the aim of making spacecraft more accessible to all. 250 applications were received from this group. On ESA's website you can read:
"ESA is ready to invest in defining the necessary adaptations of space hardware in an effort to enable these otherwise excellently qualified professionals to serve as professional crew members on a safe and useful space mission."
An admission process in several steps
The application period started on March 31 and ended on June 18. ESA has decided that up to 1,050 people can go on to the next step, consisting of a psychological assessment. If you proceed from the assessment, 4 more steps follow, the last of which consists of an interview with the ESA Director general, Josef Aschbacher.
In a press conference, Aschbacher said that there would be more chances to work with space for those who did not land a spot at the astronaut program.
ESA will employ 500 people over the next five years.
In the press conference the director of human and robotic exploration, David Parker, was asked why ESA is recruiting more astronauts and he replied:
"We have a job to do in space and we have a job to do to discover space, as well as to use space as a place to work and live in".
In September you have the chance to visit the Warp Space Summit. Read more here.