ESA Astronaut Selection 2021 Opens

ESA Astronaut Selection 2021 Opens

16/02/2021Written by Malika Andress

Today our Content Manager joined the ESA press conference online to discover more about the call for new European Astronauts.

Book online now and upgrade to a free annual pass

mascot Telescope Right
Tim Peake's space selfie during his spacewalk. Credit: ESA

For the first time since 2008, the European Space Agency (ESA) is seeking new astronauts to join a journey of discovery for the benefit of Earth.

Obviously we are hoping that there will be successful candidates from the UK to join Tim Peake.

Tim was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009. Along with his five ESA classmates, he graduated from astronaut basic training in November 2010. Tim spent three years conducting further training and working as a communicator with the International Space Station prior to his assignment to a long-duration mission in 2013.

Tim launched to the International Space Station on 15 December 2015 for an eventful 186 days in space. In the first month, he conducted a spacewalk to repair the Station’s power supply. Other highlights saw him drive a rover across a simulated Mars terrain from space, taking part in over 250 scientific experiments for ESA and international partners and helping to dock two spacecraft to the Station.

ESA Astronaut Class of 2009

So, who can apply and what are ESA looking for:

ESA is seeking candidates with a Master’s degree (or higher) and a minimum of three years’ experience in:

  • Natural Sciences
  • Medicine
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Sciences

Applications from all qualified candidates, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, or other characteristics, are welcome, and for the first time ESA s also issuing a special call for candidates with physical disabilities to apply to its astronaut reserve.

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on the ISS. Credit: ESA

ESA have provided an easy to follow tick list of some of the qualities they are looking for in a successful candidate.

We have been really lucky to speak with many astronauts in our 20 year history, so know that they are really special individuals.  This list is not everything you will need behind you:

  • Citizen of an ESA Member or Associate Member State.
  • Master’s degree (or higher) in: natural sciences (including physical sciences, Earth, atmosphere or ocean sciences, biological sciences, medicine), engineering, mathematics, computer sciences; or an experimental test pilot degree.
  • Three years’ relevant professional post-graduate experience, showing
    progressive increase in responsibilities.
  • Fluent in English (minimum CEFR C1).
  • Knowledge of additional languages (minimum CEFR B1-B2) is an asset.
  • Strong motivation and ability to cope with irregular working hours, frequent travel, and long absences from home, family and regular social life.
  • Flexible with regards to place of work (inside or outside Europe).
  • Calm under pressure.
  • Willing to participate in life science experiments.


One of the areas of the call for applications that has raised the most interest from the media was the Parastronaut Project.

As part of ESA’s commitment to enhance inclusiveness and fair representation,
the Agency is launching the parastronaut feasibility project to assess the conditions for including astronauts with disabilities to work in space. This project is a new endeavour for Europe and a global first.

The feasibility project aims at offering professional spaceflight opportunities to a wider pool of talents. Starting with selected disabilities to have a thorough understanding of the potential challenges in terms of safety and operations in space, the scope of disabilities may then be extended aiming at broader inclusion.

The educational and psychological requirements for these candidates are the same as for the ESA astronaut selection. However, with respect to physical requirements, this feasibility project will allow the inclusion of candidates with the following disabilities:
• a lower limb deficiency, as follows:
– Single or double foot deficiency
through ankle
– Single or double leg deficiency
below the knee
• a pronounced leg length difference
• a short stature (<130 cm)

ESA astronaut class of 2009. Credit: ESA–M. Koell

If you would like to apply, head on over to the ESA website and complete the application online. 

Applications open on 31 March 2021 and close 28 May 2021.

You will need to answer an online questionnaire and upload all documents required:

  • a Europass CV (in English)
  • a motivation letter (in English)
  • a copy of your passport
  • a medical certificate issued by an aviation medical examiner showing you are medically certified for a Private Pilot Licence or higher. You do not need to actually hold a pilot licence.