Zero-G Portugal – Astronaut for a Day competition receives 460 applications
The first phase of the contest promoted by the Portuguese Space Agency closed on 25 April with 460 applications coming from all the country's districts. The participants who move on to the second phase of the competition will be announced in May.
The first phase of the Zero-G Portugal – Astronaut for a Day competition was a success, closing on 25 April with a total of 460 applications. The Portuguese Space Agency – Portugal Space, promoter of the competition, received applications from all Portuguese districts. Of the young people aged between 14 and 18 who applied to Zero-G Portugal – Astronaut for a Day, 237 were male and 223 female participants.
For the director of the Portuguese Space Agency, Hugo André Costa, these numbers reflect “a fantastic adhesion by young Portuguese students, who thus demonstrate their interest in Space – a fast-growing sector in Portugal and that increasingly attracts our young people.” He adds, “in addition, we received applications from all districts, which meets one of the main objectives of this contest: full geographical representation. For the Portuguese Space Agency, it is very important that this type of activity reaches everyone, and that there are equal opportunities.” The district of Lisbon is the most represented, followed by Porto and Setúbal. The autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira also have participants who aspire to be Astronauts for a Day.
“We accomplished our goal of reaching the whole country, and also of having a balance in the participation of boys and girls, which is an indicator that girls are increasingly showing their interest in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” points out the responsible for the Education projects of Portugal Space, Marta Gonçalves. For Marta Gonçalves, “bringing young people closer to space” can contribute to their “future decisions to follow a path of study in these areas, and – who knows? – even in space, contributing or taking advantage of it.”
The young people who applied to Zero-G Portugal – Astronaut for a Day will find out whether they will continue in the competition on 9 May, when the candidates selected for the 2nd phase are announced.
In the end, 30 students will be chosen to perform the competition’s parabolic flight, and then they will be ambassadors of this initiative to their school community during the 2022/2023 school year. They will thus become responsible for reporting and disseminating their experience to their classmates and teachers, helping to cultivate and stimulate interest in Space
The Zero-G Portugal – Astronaut for a Day contest is supported by Ciência Viva and has the collaboration of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Porto.
The parabolic flights campaign, aboard French Novespace’s Airbus A310, is scheduled to depart from a national airport in September. Parabolic flights were created to understand if, and how, the human body could adapt to conditions of zero gravity. Today, they are a fundamental means of carrying out research in microgravity and testing some experiments before sending them to the International Space Station. They are also one of the techniques used to train future astronauts.