ESA 2021 astronaut selection

ESA astronaut selection

ESA (European Space Agency) launches a new campaign to select astronauts to join the ranks of the European Astronaut Corps (EAC).

Applicants have 2 months from 31 March to 18 June 2021 to complete their online application, then the best candidates will proceed to the next stages of the selection.

ESA active astronauts
The 7 active ESA astronauts: Tim Peake (United Kingdom), Andreas Mogensen (Denmark), Alexander Gerst (Germany), Luca Parmitano (Italy), Samantha Christoforetti (Italy), Thomas Pesquet (France), Matthias Maurer (Germany). Image credit: ESA. On the sides: flags of the ESA member states whose citizens can apply to become an astronaut.

The 6 steps of ESA 2021 astronaut selection process

Step 1: Submission of applications on the ESA Careers website

31 March to 18 June 2021

According to ESA, the documents to be provided by the applicant are:

  • a Europass CV in English
  • a cover letter in English
  • a copy of your passport
  • a medical certificate completed by an aviation medical examiner or aero-medical center certifying that you are suitable for the private pilot license (European Part-MED, Class 2). But you don’t need to have a pilot’s license.
  • your answers to a questionnaire “which will play a major role in the first step of the selection process” according to ESA.

Step 2: Sorting of applications

May to June 2021

ESA staff will verify that applicants meet ESA astronaut selection criteria and identify the most promising profiles.

Step 3: Psychological and psychotechnical (cognitive) tests

July to November 2021

Pre-selected candidates will be invited to Hamburg (Germany) for cognitive, technical, personality and motor coordination tests. According to ESA, more than 1,000 candidates will be invited to these tests in 2021, which is more than in 2008. ESA thus wants to be sure to identify all candidates with high potential.

Step 4: Psychometric tests

January to April 2022

Personality, motivation, reasoning, emotional intelligence tests. These individual and group tests will take place at the European Astronaut Center (EAC), in Cologne (Germany).

Step 5: Medical selection

May to July 2022

Test of the physical and mental capacities of the candidates.

Step 6: Interviews

July to September 2022

Panel interview during which the technical and behavioral skills of the candidates are assessed. Academic background and lack of criminal record are checked at this stage. The candidates selected following these interviews will then meet with the Director General of ESA, who will then proceed to the selection of new European astronauts.

And after?

Candidates selected following the ESA 2021 astronaut selection process will be presented to the general public at a press conference in October 2022

4 to 6 “professional” astronauts will be selected at the end of the selection campaign and will join the European Astronaut Corps (EAC).

In addition, according to ESA up to 20 additional “reserve” astronauts will be selected from applicants who reach the very final stages of selection. These astronauts will be part of the new Astronaut Reserve Corps. They will not be permanently employed by ESA but they may be invited to participate in space flights if opportunities arise (short flights of a few days and without extra-vehicular activities). The reserve astronauts will be ESA ambassadors in their own country.

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet in the International Space Station
ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet in the ISS. Image credit: ESA / NASA.

How to become an ESA astronaut?

Becoming an astronaut is very difficult (7 astronauts recruited only out of 10,000 candidates during the previous selection) but not impossible! So if you think you have what it takes to join ESA’s 7 active astronauts or if you dream of one day becoming an ESA Astronaut, take the opportunity to go as far as possible in the ESA 2021 astronaut selection process.

ESA astronaut requirements

While waiting for the launch of the ESA 2021 astronaut selection campaign, assess your chances of becoming the next European astronaut now by consulting the astronaut requirements communicated by ESA:

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Image credits :

  • Astronaut selection poster: ESA
  • ESA active astronauts: ESA
  • Thomas Pesquet in the ISS: ESA/NASA