The European Area Company says it was “blown away” by the file variety of candidates hoping to turn into the continent’s subsequent era of house vacationers
PARIS — The European Area Company says it was “blown away” by the file variety of candidates — greater than 22,000 — hoping to turn into the continent’s subsequent era of house vacationers, together with extra girls than ever and a few 200 individuals with disabilities.
In releasing the outcomes of a brand new recruitment drive aimed toward extra astronaut range, the company acknowledged Wednesday that it nonetheless has work to do on gender steadiness. Simply 24% of the candidates have been girls, up from 15% on the final hiring drive in 2008.
The hiring marketing campaign did not particularly tackle ethnic range, however careworn the significance of “representing all elements of our society.” The company acquired purposes from all 25 member nations and affiliate members, although most got here from conventional heavyweights France, Germany, Britain and Italy.
ESA particularly sought out individuals with bodily disabilities, for a first-of-its-kind effort to find out what variations could be essential to house stations to accommodate them.
The competitors is fierce. Simply 4 to 6 individuals will likely be chosen as Europe’s subsequent astronauts, with a reserve group of about 20. The candidates will bear intensive screening over the subsequent yr, with a closing choice anticipated in late 2022.
“We’ve all been astonished” on the variety of candidates, ESA Director Common Josef Aschbacher instructed a information convention. “It’s a really robust expression of curiosity and enthusiasm that folks have throughout Europe for house.”
The European company has despatched solely two girls into house up to now — Claudie Haigneré and Samantha Cristoforetti — however needs that quantity to develop.
Whereas 5,419 girls utilized for the brand new ESA program, “the numbers additionally present there’s extra to be accomplished to attain gender steadiness within the house sector,” mentioned David Parker, its director of human and robotic exploration.
Globally, 65 of the greater than 560 individuals who have explored house have been girls, most of them Individuals.
ESA this week signed an settlement with the European Union that can see the 27-nation bloc deepen ties with and improve its funding for the house company.
As a part of the deal, the EU will make investments nearly 9 billion euros ($10.8 billion) between now and 2027 for ESA applications aimed toward boosting financial development, digitalization and environmental safety.
Whereas many ESA members are additionally a part of the EU, some — reminiscent of Britain — should not.
Among the many future applications deliberate are one that can take a look at the usage of a satellite-based quantum encryption system for safe communications, and one other to observe house for potential hazardous particles.