The European Space Agency has selected new astronauts for the first time since 2009. Among the 17 announced candidates for space flight is the first ever para-astronaut.
ESA has selected new astronauts
The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected new astronauts for the first time since 2009. This happened on November 23, simultaneously with the announcement of a new record budget of this organization. However, the situation with long-term opportunities for the flight of these people into space remains unclear.
Out of a total of 22,500 people who applied for space flight, 17 were selected. Five of them will become “professional” astronauts. These are Frenchwoman Sophie Adenot (helicopter pilot), Spanish engineer Pablo Alvarez Fernandez, British astrophysicist Rosemary Coogan, Belgian neurobiologist Raphael Liegeois and Swiss doctor Marco Silber.
These people will be contracted by ESA and will undergo a one-year program at the European training center in Cologne, after which they will join seven active European astronauts. It is expected that they will be able to take part in flights to the International Space Station.
In addition, there is an agreement between ESA and NASA on the participation of Europeans in missions within the Artemis program. So the newly selected astronauts have a chance to get to the Moon already at the end of this decade.
The first para-astronaut
Another 11 selected participants of the program will become reserve astronauts. Contracts with them will not be signed yet, but at any time during the next years such an offer may come to them.
The last chosen candidate — British doctor John McFaul — will be the first para-astronaut. At the age of 19, he lost his leg, but after that he took up athletics and became a Paralympian.
McFaul will become a kind of “experimental astronaut”. The specialist will work out the technical and economic rationale for launching people with limited physical capabilities into space.
Experts have the most questions about safety during the start. Expedition participants must be able to quickly evacuate, and experts must understand whether a para-astronaut will slow this process down. In addition, engineers are trying to figure out what changes will have to be made to the design of spacecraft and their flight protocols.
According to Spacenews.com