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Do YOU have what it takes to become an astronaut? MailOnline reveals the key criteria

While many children grow up dreaming of becoming an astronaut, very few people see this dream become a reality. 

This week, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced its first new cohort of astronauts in almost 15 years.

The new astronauts have some impressive credentials to their names and include a former Paralympian, a helicopter test pilot, and a neuroscientist.

So, would you have what it takes to become a professional astronaut? Here, MailOnline reveals the key criteria needed to be considered by ESA.

Would you have what it takes to become a professional astronaut? Here, MailOnline reveals the key criteria needed to be considered by ESA

Meet ESA’s new cohort of astronauts 

Career astronauts

  • Rosemary Coogan – UK
  • Sophie Adenot – France 
  • Pablo Álvarez Fernández – Spain
  • Raphaël Liégeois – Belgium
  • Marco Sieber – Switzerland 

Astronaut reservists

  • Meganne Christian – UK
  • Nicola Winter – Germany
  • Marcus Wandt – Sweden
  • Anthea Comellini – Italy
  • Sara García Alonso – Spain
  • Andrea Patassa – Italy
  • Carmen Possnig – Austria
  • Arnaud Prost – France
  • Amelie Schoenenwald – Germany
  • Aleš Svoboda – Czech Republic
  • Sławosz Uznański – Poland

Astronaut with a physical disability

From more than 22,500 applicants, ESA selected five career astronauts, 11 astronaut reserves and one ‘parastronaut’.

‘Today we welcome the 17 members of the new ESA astronaut class 2022,’ said ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.

‘This ESA astronaut class is bringing ambition, talent and diversity in many different forms – to drive our endeavours, and our future.’

ESA describes itself as an ‘equal opportunities employer’, and says that ‘anyone who meets the requirements’ can apply.

However, its requirements aren’t exactly straightforward.

Nationality

ESA will only consider applications from nationals of an ESA Member State or Associated Member State.

These are: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom plus Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Qualifications

Applicants must have a minimum of a Master’s degree from a recognised academic institution in natural sciences, medicine, engineering or mathematics/computer sciences.

They must then have at least three years of professional experience under their belt after graduation.

‘A PhD or equivalent degree, or additional Master’s degrees in the aforementioned subject areas, are considered an asset,’ ESA explains.

Alternatively, applicants can have a degree as an Experimental Test Pilot and/or Test Engineer.

This week, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced its first new cohort of astronauts in almost 15 years

This week, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced its first new cohort of astronauts in almost 15 years 

Today, John McFall (pictured), 41, was selected to take part in the European Space Agency's (ESA) Parastronaut Feasibility Project

Shooting for the stars: Three Britons – including the first ever ‘parastronaut’ – are among the European Space Agency’s first new cohort of astronauts in almost 15 years. John McFall (pictured), Rosemary Coogan and Meganne Christian have been named in a class of 17

Requirements

Applicants must meet a range of requirements to be considered. This includes:

  • Willing to perform arduous physical activities, including walking, running, heavy lifting and crawling
  • Willing to submit to a swimming test
  • Willing to undergo zero gravity flight training
  • Willing to spend extended time training underwater to simulate microgravity
  • Possess a valid driving licence, or be willing to obtain one
  • Able to work in a team
  • Experience in risky situations
Members of ESA's new class of astronauts Meganne Christian (second left), John McFall (second right) and Rosemary Coogan (right) pose with astronaut Major Tim Peake (left)

Members of ESA’s new class of astronauts Meganne Christian (second left), John McFall (second right) and Rosemary Coogan (right) pose with astronaut Major Tim Peake (left)

Language

Applicants must be able to speak and write English well, while good knowledge of another foreign language is ‘a plus’.

‘Speaking Russian is an asset, but not a requirement. This is the second official language on the International Space Station and is taught during the astronaut training,’ ESA explained.

Age

Unfortunately for older aspiring astronauts, ESA has a maximum age limit.

‘Every space mission represents an extremely high investment for all stakeholders involved,’ it explains on its website.

‘For this reason, and to ensure that each recruited astronaut can fulfil at least two missions during their employment with ESA prior to retirement, ESA is obliged to set a maximum age limit of 50 years.’

Unsurprisingly, you need to be in top condition to be an ESA astronaut. Pictured: Tim Peake prior to boarding the Soyuz TMA-19M rocket for launch Expedition 46 to the International Space Station in 2015

Unsurprisingly, you need to be in top condition to be an ESA astronaut. Pictured: Tim Peake prior to boarding the Soyuz TMA-19M rocket for launch Expedition 46 to the International Space Station in 2015

Health

Unsurprisingly, you need to be in top condition to be an ESA astronaut.

‘Being an astronaut is extremely demanding on the body and mind, with long periods away from family and friends, high workload and irregular working hours and with routines beyond the comfort zone,’ ESA says.

‘The wellbeing of the astronaut, alongside that of the whole team, is the condition for the success of each mission.’

Applicants must be free from any disease or psychiatric disorders, demonstrate cognitive, mental and personality capabilities, and have 20/20 vision either naturally or after correction with glasses or contact lenses.

Any hearing impairment is also not allowed, ‘to ensure communication over radio with the ground for safety reasons.’

Height

ESA also has strict height requirements for astronauts, who must measure between 150cm and 190cm tall (4ft 11′ and 6ft 2.8′).

However, for this round of applicants, ESA opened up the opportunity for people shorter than 130cm (4ft 3′) for the first time, for its ‘astronaut with a physical disability’ vacancy.

PARASTRONAUT: ESA SEARCHING FOR DIFFERENTLY ABLED CANDIDATE 

The European Space Agency is looking for a parastronaut that could travel to the ISS in the future.

The person selected will join the reserve crew while ESA work with partners to find a safe way to travel. 

Individuals with missing feet or lower legs, either from amputation or birth defects, are eligible, as too are people who are shorter than 130 cm (4ft 3in). 

Tim Peake says he ‘wouldn’t have any reservations travelling to space with someone with disabilities’.

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti said we ‘didn’t evolve to be in space’.

She said we’re ‘all disabled in space’ and it is just a case of perfecting the technology to take candidates who would otherwise be selected to be an astronaut if it were not for a disability. 

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