The European Space Agency (ESA) is on the hunt for new astronauts for the first time in 11 years. These recruits will work alongside ESA’s existing astronauts as Europe enters a new era of space exploration.


The agency is strongly encouraging women to apply as it seeks to expand gender diversity in its ranks.

The vacancy runs from 31 March to 28 May and ESA will only consider applications submitted to its career website within those eight weeks. After that, the six-stage selection process will start, which is expected to be completed in October 2022.

“Thanks to a strong mandate from ESA member states at Space19+, our Ministerial Council in 2019, Europe is taking its place at the heart of space exploration," said ESA director general Jan Wörner.

“To go farther than we ever have before, we need to look wider than we ever have before.

“This recruitment process is the first step and I look forward to watching the agency develop across all areas of space exploration and innovation, with our international partners, in the years to come.”

ESA's poster reading 'Join us' © ESA/PA

David Parker, ESA director of human and robotic exploration, is keen for future cohorts of astronauts to include people with physical disabilities.

“Representing all parts of our society is a concern that we take very seriously," he said. “Diversity at ESA should not only address the origin, age, background or gender of our astronauts, but also perhaps physical disabilities.

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Sara RigbyOnline staff writer, BBC Science Focus

Sara is the online staff writer at BBC Science Focus. She has an MPhys in mathematical physics and loves all things space, dinosaurs and dogs.