TALLINN - The competition for aspiring astronauts by the European Space Agency (ESA) ended on June 18 with altogether 57 people from Estonia responding to the recruitment call.
According to preliminary figures, applications were submitted by over 22,000 people, among them 35 men and 22 women from Estonia.
ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher says that the agency sought to attract a wide range of applicants through its recruitment campaign and looks forward to the challenge of selecting Europe's best-suited candidates.
“I would like to thank all of you who applied for the time and effort you have already put into your astronaut application. We appreciate your patience as our team works to ensure a fair and thorough process, and remind anyone with an interest in space that being an astronaut is not the only opportunity available at ESA. In the coming years we will be seeking a wide range of space professionals and I encourage you to view these opportunities on the ESA careers website," Aschbacher said.
"Estonia stands out for having the largest proportion of women candidates. The average share of women candidates was close to one-fourth, compared to nearly 40 percent from Estonia," Madis Vooras, head of the Estonian Space Office at Enterprise Estonia, said.
From the closure of the vacancy notices on June 18, 2021, to the worldwide announcement of selected astronauts in late 2022, ESA's astronaut selection process consists of six key stages.
The first of these stages is screening. During this phase, applications will be assessed on the basis of all documents submitted, the application form and the screening questionnaire completed as part of the application process. Candidates will be notified at the end of each stage as to whether their application has been successful in progressing to the next step. The entire selection process will take one and a half years.
The European Space Agency is planning to select six career astronauts and 20 project astronauts forming a reserve at ESA. The increased need for astronauts has been prompted by both ESA and NASA planning to launch new manned space missions.
The European Space Agency has also announced its plan to hire and launch the world's first physically disabled astronaut and over 200 would-be para-astronauts have already applied for the role, according to Aschbacher.
The Estonian Space Office at Enterprise Estonia is a developer of space entrepreneurship and promoter of international cooperation in Estonia.