VERDICT More than 22,000 Europeans had applied in the spring of 2021 to become Thomas Pesquet's future colleague. Here we are. This Wednesday, in Paris, ESA unveils the winners. That's four to six astronauts… including a Frenchman?
Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, during his first spacewalk in the space. space, July 9, 2013. — N.A.S.A./SIPA
- Launched in the spring of 2021, the recruitment campaign for the European Space Agency's new promotion of astronauts is nearing its goal.
- The winners, four to six candidates chosen from among the 22,589 Europeans who submitted their CV , will be announced this Wednesday afternoon, in Paris, where ESA is holding its ministerial conference.
- New this year: ESA will also constitute a reserve of astronauts made up of candidates who have also shone in the different stages of selections.
They were 22,589 in spring 2021. 22,589 Europeans having deposited their applications to the European Space Agency (ESA), between March 31 and May 28, with the dream of becoming Thomas Pesquet’s future colleague.
The ESA wanted to recruit at least four profiles – maybe six – to expand its “pool” current of seven astronauts, among which, therefore, the Frenchman Thomas Pesquet. The space agency had not launched a recruitment campaign of this magnitude since 2008.
A new promotion unveiled this Wednesday
A year and a half later, here we are. The ESA will take advantage of its ministerial conference, which is currently being held at the Grand Palais Éphemere, in Paris. Paris, to unveil this Wednesday afternoon its new promotion of astronauts. They will be at least four, perhaps six, chosen from among those to have passed the six selection stages which took place until last month.
A first skimming, based on on the documents and questionnaires submitted by the candidates when submitting the CVs, should already have reduce their number to 1,500. This is followed by a battery of tests (psycho-cognitive, psychometric, practical) at the ESA assessment center, at the ESA. Hamburg. Then, the next stage was that of the medical selection, more precisely the test of the physical and mental capacities of the candidates still in contention compared to the international medical standards for the missions. long-term astronauts.
Two rounds of interviews were to crown it all. A first to test technical and behavioral skills. A second in the office of the Director General of ESA, Josef Aschbacher, the final stage of this obstacle course.
Scientific profiles more than airplane pilots?< /h2>
What will be the profile of the lucky ones elected? When launching its recruitment campaign in February 2021, the space agency insisted that it was not necessarily looking, as is often believed, for test pilot profiles. But much more scientific profiles, graduates at least at Master's level in the fields of natural sciences, medicine, engineering, mathematics or computer sciences. The selection mechanism did not include any criteria related to Neither does sex. This was also one of the good news at the time. Closing date for applications: Of the 22,589 applications received, 5,419, or 24%, were from Europeans. We are still a long way from parity, but it’s much more than it’s time. the previous campaign, for which 1,287 Europeans had tried their luck out of 18,000 applications received.
More probably than sex, it will be nationality. which should be closely scrutinized this Wednesday, each of the 22 ESA member states cherishing the hope of seeing one of its own join the pool. “It would be legitimate for Belgium to have an astronaut this Wednesday,” said Thomas Dermine, the Belgian Secretary of State in charge of Space Policy, in the columns of the Free Belgium, Monday. Two arguments were put forward by the Belgian daily. First, Belgium is the fifth largest contributor to the ESA budget. Of two, 1,019 of its citizens had applied for in spring 2021 (1.019). Only five countries had more.
Les chiffres préliminaires de notre #AstronautSelection indiquent que:
🔹 7137 Français ont postulé, dont 5475 hommes et 1662 femmes (soit 23,3%).
🔹 67 Français ont postulé au poste d'astronaute en situation de handicap, dont 50 hommes et 17 femmes.
👉 https://t.co/A05PM8Ug3k pic.twitter.com/22kcMLOhUS
— ESA France (@ESA_fr) June 23, 2021
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A French hoped for?
But if we take these two arguments, France also has very good reasons to hope. It is not only the second largest contributor to the ESA’s budget, behind Germany, but it’s also from here that the ESA received the most applications. And not just a little. 7,137 French people had sent their CV, almost twice as much as the Germans (3,700), second.
New this time: ESA will not just recruit four to five six new astronauts. The European Space Agency also announces the first formation of a reserve of astronauts, made up of candidates who have passed all the stages of the selection process without joining the final cohort. These reserve astronauts will remain employed by their current companies.
During the launch of its recruitment campaign, ESA also announced that open the doors of Space to one or more candidates with a physical disability, via the parallel program « Parastronaut ». Severe; again, the names of the lucky ones could be announced this Wednesday.