Clear the stage for lots of smiles from ESA’s newly selected astronaut candidates. ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher announced them on 23 November 2022, following the ESA Council at Ministerial level in Paris, France.

The European Space Agency chose 17 new astronaut candidates from more than 22 500 applicants from across its Member States who submitted a valid application in the 2021 ESA call for new astronauts.

In this new 2022 class of ESA astronauts are five career astronauts, 11 members of the astronaut reserve and one astronaut with a physical disability for a feasibility project for missions to the International Space Station and beyond.

ESA’s new career astronaut candidates will take up duty at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne (EAC), Germany, in April 2023 to start their basic training.  The five candidates will receive high-level training according to the International Space Station standards. 

Classroom lessons will introduce them to ESA and other space agencies along with the main space programmes, followed by fundamental knowledge in various technical and scientific disciplines. The trainees will then go into more detail about space systems, operations, Europe’s contribution to the Space Station with the Columbus module, and transportation vehicles. Scuba diving for spacewalk familiarisation, robotic operations and survival training will also be part of this initial training.

After completion of the 12-month basic training, the new astronauts will be ready to enter the next Space Station training phase (called Pre-assignment training) and, once assigned to a mission, their training will be tailored to specific mission tasks (Increment training).  

ESA also selected one astronaut candidate with a physical disability. He will take part in the Parastronaut Feasibility Project to develop options for the inclusion of astronauts with physical disabilities in human spaceflight and possible future missions.

For the first time, ESA has established a reserve pool of astronauts. This reserve list is composed of astronaut candidates who were successful throughout the entire selection process but cannot be recruited at this point in time. Astronauts in the reserve remain with their current employers and will receive a consultancy contract and basic support. They will start basic training in case there is a  flight opportunity. 

ESA – S. Corvaja