back to article ESA swamped by over 23,000 applicants for astronaut program

The European Space Agency's astronaut recruitment project has far exceeded its most optimistic forecasts by generating 23,000 applications. Upon assessment, around 20 per cent of applicants were found not to meet the requirements for the job, so were quickly informed they would not be considered. However "more than 80 per …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    open to citizens of EU states or associate nations

    So the UK has shot its citizens in the foot, then? So to speak...

    John Varley considers various changes to the human body which might better suit it for life in zero-g in various of his books, for example, The Ophiuchi Hotline.

    1. UCAP Silver badge

      Re: open to citizens of EU states or associate nations

      Sorry, you are wrong in assuming that the the UK is excluded from this. ESA is NOT an EU institution, although Brussels has tried several times to take control of it. In fact ESA predates the EU by at lease a decade or two. The UK is still a very active member and is still contributing to a lot of the programmes, including manned spaceflight.

      Little know fact - Canada is also a member of ESA, albeit an associated member.

      The article is not well worded - anyone who is a citizen of an ESA member or associate state may apply.

    2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: open to citizens of EU states or associate nations

      Does a gunshot wound in the foot count as a disability?!? If so then the UK was just trying to improve their suitability for the position!

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    The UK is still a member of the ESA, the Galileo bust up was to do with the political value of the system rather than problems with the ESA.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      The problem with the Galileo project is that in the planning stages one country was 100% adamant that non-EU countries should be excluded.

      No prizes for guessing which country.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        And for those who got it wrong, it was the UK. See icon ---->

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course there were a lot of applicants...

    It's an out of this world opportunity to have a blast off this rock & get to moon the Earth with your tiny shiny asteroid! *Grin*

  4. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    I'd give ....

    .... my right arm to be able to become an astronaut!

    ----------> Mines the one with only one sleeve!

  5. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    We don’t need disabled people in space

    We need sociopath billionaires in space so they can see exactly what it is they are destroying with their arrogance

    Some of those launches need to be one way only

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The program is open to citizens of EU states or associate nations, ..."

    This is incorrect - ESA is not an EU organisation.

    "Please note that applications are only considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Latvia and Slovenia."

    The closing date was extended for applications from new ESA associate member state, Lithuania.

    About ESA, the EU, GSA and Brexit

    After the 2019 UK general election, the EC demanded that ESA sack all British citizens from EC funded programmes(ostensibly for reasons of security) but the UK remains a core member of ESA. The EC had their own organisation (GSA) that controlled only Galileo and EGNOS but development and procurements for these programmes have long been subcontracted to ESA (not least because GSA never had the expertise). Then the EC changed GSA to EUSPA (EU Agency for the Space Programme), broadened their scope and gave them a huge budget. Over the last year, EUSPA have been actively trying to force ESA out of Galileo and EGNOS, with the hope that they can seize ESA's staff and IP. The longer term goals of EC and EUSPA are to borg ESA, along with their assets, IP and staff.

    1. Lars Silver badge


      A few points on ESA and for those more interested try:

      "The political perspective of the European Union (EU) was to make ESA an agency of the EU by 2014, however, this date was not met. The EU member states provide most of ESA's funding, and they are all either full ESA members or observers. ".

      Note Britain was a EU member in 2014.

      Budget contributions in % 2020.

      France 26.9

      Germany 20.1

      Italy 13.7

      Britain 9.5

      Spain 5.1



      Non-full members

      Canada contr. 0.6%



      Slovenia 0.1%

      Apart from that the EU also takes part in the budget.

      I don't think Brits working for the ESA are all that vocal.

  7. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    The ideal astronaut

    Last century some time, the perfect astronaut was described (in the language of the time, so apologies for the offence caused) as "a midget with a physics degree".

    I guess the physics degree still holds, and also maybe the achondroplasia (the correct medical term

    Watch the current paralympics for potential parastronauts as I'm guessing they want people to be physically really fit.

  8. MachDiamond Silver badge

    It depends

    The missions available that might be adaptable to somebody with a major disability will be extremely limited. Even in freefall, astronauts are still using all four limbs to get around and to anchor themselves. While it may sound easy for somebody that doesn't have any legs, they would wind up with only one useful arm since they'd have to hold on to something while working or have a specialized restraint harness they might need help deploying. In the event of an emergency, a disabled person might need somebody else to assist them to get into a suit or escape capsule.

    I was never good enough to play professional hockey. That doesn't mean I've been discriminated against. Not everybody is going to be a good fit to be an astronaut. Only a couple of percent of people that think they want to serve on a submarine will pass the tests and some of those will wash out in their first deployment/year.

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