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Space Agency Drowns in Applications From People Wanting to Become Astronauts

It was not long ago when the European Space Agency (ESA) announced it is receiving applications for future astronaut positions. The agency opened the sign-up books in April, and by the time it was done, over 23,000 people had enlisted for duty (a bit more than the number announced back in June).
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Come August, ESA has combed through most of the applications, and even after rejecting about 20 percent of them because they “did not fulfill the requirements stated in the applicable documentation,” is still left with over 18,000 potentially good candidates. And that means there’s a lot of waiting to be done in the coming months.

Stating that the sheer volume means that the entire process “simply takes more time than initially foreseen,” the agency’s head of space medicine, Guillaume Weerts, is asking wannabe astronauts to be patient and wait for the invitation to arrive.

“We really want to thank everyone who did put themselves forward. We fully understand how important these applications are to candidates, and we are working to let everyone who applied know the outcome of their application as soon as possible,” the official said.

That would be an invitation to a full day of testing at an undisclosed facility in Europe, where probably a large number of candidates will be rejected. ESA estimates it will take until at least November to notify all these people of the outcome of their application.

But that is only the beginning, as the entire process, at the end of which ESA will know the names of its future astronauts, is expected to take at least one and a half years.

As space exploration moves into a new, more rapid phase of development, ESA is looking to create something it calls an astronaut reserve from where to source the people it needs for its future missions.

No exact number on how many astronauts the agency will select at the end of this process was given.

 
 
 
 
 

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