Thirteen Portuguese maintain the dream
of being astronauts
Of the 320 Portuguese candidates for ESA astronauts, 13 are still in the race: ten men and three women.
The selection process should be completed in October.
Thirteen Portuguese passed to the second phase of the astronaut selection process promoted by the European Space Agency (ESA), meaning they can still be selected to be part of the first group of European astronauts who might travel do the Moon. Of the 13 Portuguese invited to the second stage of this concourse, ten are men and three are women, ESA announced today. All of them have already taken the necessary tests to know if they will advance to the psychological tests of the second phase of the selection process.
Initially, 320 Portuguese submitted their application to become an ESA astronauts, which makes up 1,4% of all European candidates. The 13 Portuguese (4% of the initial total) selected to the second stage represent 1% of the European candidates still on this “race”, out of a total of 1361. Regarding the gender of the national candidates, 3,8% of the men (10 out of 260) and 5% of women (3 out of 61) are still on the selection process.
The Portuguese Space Agency – Portugal Space director, Hugo Costa, congratulated the Portuguese selected for the second stage of the European astronaut selection process: “With 13 Portuguese still in this race, we can still dream of seeing the first Portuguese astronaut because this process contemplates two possible ways to become an astronaut: the Career Astronaut and the Reserve Astronaut.
Hugo Costa also notes that, in the first phase of the process, the numer of Portuguese candidates for astronaut doubled compared to 2008, the year in which the last ESA selection contest took place. “It is a reflection of the commitment that Portugal has been making regarding space activities, but also of the effort and quality of the Portuguese academy, from which young people prepared and enthusiastic to build their future in the space sector have emerged”, he emphasizes.
The European-wide reading show, now, that out of a total of 22,523 valid applications from European citizens, only 5.8% of the candidates were invited to the second phase (1,361). As of February 10, 1,307 had already carried out the tests of the present stage of this second phase.
The 2021 ESA astronaut selection process, which takes place for the first time since 2008, was also the first to include vacancies for candidates with a physical disability. The Agency received a total of 287 applications for parastronauts, of which four were Portuguese. ESA has not disclosed the nationality of the 25 parastronauts invited to the testing phase.
This pilot project will give the opportunity to pursue a career as an astronaut to a part of society that has so far been excluded from spaceflight. For the first time in history, a space agency takes on an inclusive project of this magnitude.
The ESA astronaut selection process is divided into six stages and is expected to be completed between October and November this year. Phase 2 testing ends on the 31st of May, being a gradual process that includes two stages: candidates who are successful in the psychological performance tests will participate in a set of psychological interviews and group tests before the medical tests, scheduled for May and June. Medical tests are followed by recruitment interviews, scheduled for September. At that time, the selection process should be reduced to 50 candidates, culminating in the last quarter of 2022 in the choice of up to six career astronauts and 20 reserve astronauts, who, not being part of the ESA staff, may be selected for specific projects.
The astronaut recruitment campaign is part of a wider strategy by the European Space Agency to show that there is a high number of job opportunities within the organization. The Agency aims to recruit around 100 people annually over the next decade and in February launched a new edition of the internship program for recent graduates (Young Graduate Programme), which Portuguese students can apply for.