Watched as he floats, French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet (left) installs new solar panels on the International Space Station. Now that ESA has six vacancies (and as many as twenty spare places) for Pesquet’s successors for the first time in eleven years, more than 22,000 interested people have applied, as it turned out this week. Among them are also 998 Dutch. The selection procedure will continue until October 2022.
The European Space Agency hopes to recruit mainly women. So far, just over 10 percent of astronauts are women. This shows an average of 24 per cent in new registrations and 30 per cent in the Netherlands.
New astronauts will fly to the International Space Station, but there is a chance for more. For example, a new crew of astronauts will likely also provide new travelers on the Moon. Even Mars is on the European Space Agency’s wish list.
Whoever reaches the finish line joins an exclusive group. Of the billions of people who have lived on our planet since the dawn of the space age, less than six hundred have left their cosmic womb. This gives space travelers a near-legendary status, comparable only to Olympic champions, conquerors of Mount Everest, and Nobel Prize laureates.
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