ESA has today opened applications for talented individuals wishing to become an astronaut in the European Astronaut Corps. There has not been a selection campaign since 1992, so this is a rare opportunity to be at the forefront of ESA's human spaceflight programmes including future missions to the ISS, the Moon and beyond.
Prospective candidates can now carry out the first step of the application procedure by filling in details online at www.esa.int/astronautselection.
Applicants will be asked to enter some personal information and contact details, and to upload a private-pilot medical examination certificate, from an Aviation Medical Examiner who has been certified by their national Aviation Medical Authority; or alternatively the ESA Medical Statement, approved by a physician (see also specific requirements). Then within 24 hours the candidate will receive login details to fill in a detailed application form.
The shortlisted candidates will then go through a series of additional selection procedures. At the end of the process four candidates will be invited to become members of the European Astronaut Corps and begin basic training at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. The final appointments will be officially announced in 2009.
The selection procedure includes:
* two stages of psychological and professional aptitude evaluation, including behavioural and cognitive skills tests
* medical evaluation: including clinical examination by aero-medical physicians and clinical specialists, laboratory screening tests, and special procedures
* a formal interview: as potential ESA staff members, the astronaut candidates will go before an ESA selection board for further professional assessment
The ideal candidates should be competent in relevant scientific disciplines, such as life sciences, physics, chemistry and medicine and/or be an engineer or experimental test pilot, and should have demonstrated outstanding abilities in research, applications or the educational field, preferably including operational skills. A good memory and reasoning ability, concentration, aptitude for spatial orientation and manual dexterity are also prerequisites. Applicants should be fluent in English (Russian being an asset) and should have high motivation, flexibility, team competence, empathy with others and emotional stability.
"As a former astronaut I have been looking forward to the start of the selection procedure with a great deal of anticipation", says Michel Tognini, Head of the European Astronaut Centre. "With the recent additions of ESA's Columbus laboratory to the ISS and the Automated Transfer Vehicle serving as an ISS logistics spacecraft, European human spaceflight has now entered a new era with respect to science and operations. Building on the past 30 years of experience of ESA astronauts, we now need high-calibre people to spearhead ESA's vision of ISS exploitation and future human exploration of our solar system."
Candidates from all 17 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) are welcome to apply.
Concept of aeromedical fitness and associated medical certificate requirement
The rationale behind requiring an initial medical screening certificate will help ensure that astronaut applicants already possess a minimum level of health that is also required for anyone desiring a private pilot license.
The JAR-FCL 3 Class 2 (or equivalent such as those from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), European military or professional pilot medical certificate, or ESA Astronaut Applicant Medical Statement [see below]) medical examination is able to efficiently and relatively inexpensively detect many of the most common health-related factors that would prevent an applicant from becoming a private pilot, and hence also an astronaut.
This helps to streamline the process and ensure that applicants with the most likely chance for success are approved to continue to the next phase of the selection process. Obviously, there are more rigorous health demands to become an astronaut. Hence the dedicated round of very intensive medical examinations that happen later in the selection process.
The JAR-FCL 3 Class 2 medical certificate is a European-wide accepted standard developed by the Joint Aviation Authority. It can only be issued by specifically certified physicians (i.e., aeromedical examiners). Recognizing that it may not be feasible for every interested applicant to obtain a JAR-FCL 3 Class 2 medical certificate, ESA will also accept an equivalent medical statement that has been authorized by a physician (for example a general medical practitioner). The ESA Astronaut Medical Statement includes equivalent medical and health examinations as the JAR-FCL 3 Class 2, but can be authorized by a physician (e.g. general practitioner).
Remember, it is very important that you ONLY upload the Medical Certificate. Do NOT upload any medical data information associated with your Medical Certificate.
1. First attempt to obtain a JAR-FCL 3 Class 2 medical certificate.
2. If the above is not feasible, download the 2 forms
a. ESA Astronaut Applicant Medical Statement
b. ESA Astronaut Applicant Medical Examination List
3. Take these 2 forms to a physician of your choice to have the medical examination performed and ESA Astronaut Applicant Medical Statement completed.