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For the first time in over a decade, the European Space Agency (ESA) is seeking new astronauts to join humankind’s greatest adventure for the benefit of Earth.

Applications open 31 March 2021 and ESA’s Astronaut Selection webpage ( provides everything you need to know to prepare a strong application and apply. This site is the hub for all ESA astronaut selection content and will be updated throughout the campaign.

The opportunity to become an ESA astronaut is rare and highly competitive. ESA last sought applicants for astronaut positions in 2008 and has held only three recruitment rounds, including its first in 1978.

This time there is a new opportunity for astronaut hopefuls thanks to the introduction of a parastronaut feasibility project.

Full details of the requirements for the astronaut selection and parastronaut feasibility project will be released when applications open. The application period will run until 28 May 2021 and the outcome is expected to be announced in October 2022.


An addition to the career astronauts, who will be trained for long-duration or complex space missions and hired as permanent ESA staff members, ESA’s parastronaut feasibility project is a global first that aims to begin removing barriers for people with disabilities to carry out a professional space mission.

Individual(s) who are psychologically, cognitively, technically and professionally qualified to become astronauts, but who have a physical disability that would normally prevent them from being selected due to the restrictions of current space hardware are encouraged to apply.

Astronauts from ESA’s Class of 2009 at Le Bourget before the Human Spaceflight and Exploration in Europe conference © ESA

ESA is already working with its international partners and commercial spaceflight providers to create a more accessible environment, and determine the feasibility of an astronaut with specific physical disabilities flying a safe and valuable mission to the International Space Station as we look ahead to the Moon and Mars.


ESA is looking for candidates from a large variety of profiles and backgrounds, but for the best chance of success, astronaut hopefuls are urged to familiarise themselves with the minimum requirements.

ESA astronauts Matthias Maurer and Thomas Pesquet stand in front of a SpaceX rocket

These include being a citizen of an ESA member state or associate state, ( holding the minimum of a Master’s degree in natural sciences, medicine, engineering, mathematics, or computer sciences or holding a degree as an experimental test pilot and/or test engineer from an official experimental test pilot school. Candidates must have at least three years of relevant professional experience after graduation and be fluent in English. Good knowledge of another foreign language and any other additional language is a plus.

Applicants do not need to hold a pilot’s license but they must submit a class 2 medical certificate issued by an aviation medical examiner that shows they are medically qualified for a private pilot licence (PPL).


ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was selected in ESA’s 2008-09 astronaut selection and describes becoming an astronaut as “a dream come true”.

“It brings together many of my passions: science and technology, complex machines, demanding operational environments, international teams, physical fitness, public outreach. And of course, occasionally you get to ride a rocket to work!”

There are many other exciting careers in the space sector beyond astronauts. ESA is constantly on the lookout for experts in engineering, science, IT and business services to join its teams. Discover ways to join ESA, wherever you are on your career path by visiting the ESA careers website. (

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on the International Space Station © ESA


From closure of the vacancy notice on 28 May 2021 to the worldwide announcement of selected astronauts in mid-late 2022, ESA’s astronaut selection consists of six key stages. These are preceded by a screening phase as follows:

Screening: several screening rounds will be conducted on the basis of all documents submitted with the application form as well as the screening questionnaire completed as part of the application. In addition, applications for the selection of candidates with physical disabilities will undergo a medical screening on basis of the eligible impairments.

Test Phase 1: cognitive, technical, motor coordination and personality testing.

Test Phase 2: psychometric testing, group and individual exercises and practical tests.

Test Phase 3: applicants’ physical and mental abilities are measured against international medical standards for spaceflight missions.

Interview Round 1: panel interview in which applicants are tested on technical and behavioural competencies (educational qualifications are verified and criminal record checks are carried out).

Interview Round 2: final stage of the selection process. Applicants who make it through to this stage can expect an interview with the ESA Director General, after which a final decision will be made.

Source : ESA

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