Astronaut for a Day: Third edition kicks off this Friday

Registrations for the first phase of the competition, promoted by the Portuguese Space Agency, open this Friday, January 19, and close on February 19.

For the third consecutive year, the Portuguese Space Agency will allow 30 young Portuguese students to experience weightlessness like astronauts. The third edition of the national competition ‘Astronaut for a Day’ (previously known as ‘Zero-G Portugal – Astronaut for a Day’) is officially launched this Friday, January 19, with the opening of the application submission period for the first phase of the initiative. Applications are open until February 19 and can be submitted on the official website, where the competition regulations can also be consulted.

The zero-gravity flight will take place on September 29 in Beja, at the Air Base No. 11 of the Portuguese Air Force. Similar to previous editions, all students in basic or secondary education of the Portuguese education system, aged between 14 and 18 years on the flight date, and attending, at most, the 11th grade in the current school year, can apply for ‘Astronaut for a Day.’

The competition evaluation format remains the same, simulating real astronaut selection processes. In the first phase, candidates must submit general and contact information along with a motivation video lasting a maximum of 45 seconds. From the total number of candidates, 250 will be selected for the second phase, which consists of a test of Memory, Speed, and Spatial Reasoning. The third phase will have 100 candidates who will undergo a Physical Aptitude test. Of these, 50 will be called for an Interview, from which the 30 finalists will be selected. However, participation in the parabolic flight is only guaranteed if, after a medical examination, the candidate is deemed clinically fit to fly.

After the record number of applications in the 2023 edition, Hugo André Costa, executive director of the Portuguese Space Agency, anticipates further growth this year: ‘Astronaut for a Day has been on a path of sustained affirmation at the national level. We already have 61 ambassadors for the initiative, representing various regions, who promote activities in their communities to share the experience and attract new candidates.’ After receiving 552 applications in the last edition, a 20% increase from 2022, ‘the Agency wants, once again, to ensure total geographical representation, one of the main objectives in this first phase,’ points out Hugo Costa, also stating that ‘this is a way to bring Space to families so that everyone can feel part of this space journey.’

For Marta Gonçalves, manager of Education and Science programs at the Portuguese Space Agency, the initiative has shown young Portuguese that ‘Space is an area accessible to everyone’: ‘With Astronaut for a Day, we also try to overcome the idea that Space is something distant, accessible to only a few. We invest in this selection process because we believe that our finalists are versatile individuals with various capabilities, not just good students.’

The third edition of ‘Astronaut for a Day’ has the collaboration of the Portuguese Air Force, the Municipality of Beja, Ciência Viva, the Faculty of Human Kinetics of the University of Lisbon, and the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Porto.

Portugal Space
22 of January, 2024