Having a graduate degree in the sciences just might get you into space. The European Space Agency (ESA) is recruiting a new class of astronauts to travel to the International Space Station and beyond. Looking for a diverse team of people to join its space missions, the ESA is looking for both career astronauts and 20 reserve astronauts.
Jan Wörner, director general of ESA, explains, “As an equal opportunity employer, it is very important to have diversity as it helps us to make things better. We would in particular encourage women to apply, because it is really interesting and supportive if we have mixed teams.”
It’s not only gender diversity that ESA is encouraging. There is one vacancy for a parastronaut: an astronaut who meets all the usual criteria, but who has a physical disability that would ordinarily prevent them from applying.
At a minimum, the qualifications include a Master’s degree in the natural sciences, medicine, engineering, mathematics or computer sciences. A degree as an experimental test pilot or test engineer is also accepted. A PhD is an asset, but is not required. As well as a degree, applicants should have at least three years of postgraduate professional experience in a relevant field, such as working in a laboratory or hospital, or doing field research.
ESA says it’s looking for people who are calm under pressure and comfortable with long absences from home and long working hours. The first missions for this class of astronauts will be on board the International Space Station. After that, there is the possibility of travelling to the Lunar Gateway orbiter and even the surface of the Moon. Applications close in May, with the final selection completed in October 2022.