Call for Would-Be Astronauts

Not one we’ve been asked to advertise anything (yet), but I spotted on the BBC website that the European Space Agency are going to be recruiting for astronauts.

According to the BBC, they’re not due to call for applications until 19th May, with entries closing on 15th June, but I’d suggest you bookmark the ESA careers website and monitor it for changes if you’ve always dreamed of heading out into space.

So what do you need?

You’ve got to be between 27 and 37, have a degree, ideally in science, engineering, maths or medicine, and preferably be a qualified pilot. You have to come from a country which is a member of ESA (the UK is) and if you can also speak Russian, that won’t hurt your chances.

Would a postgrad degree help?

  • Well, according to Ed Mitchell, one of the men who walked on the moon on Apollo 14, it helped his chances. He made sure he was as highly qualified as possible – he claims that, for a number of years, he was the only astronaut who was a test pilot who also had a PhD, and he was sure that helped his career*.
  • Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space who worked on Mir, has a PhD in Chemistry (she worked for Mars, on chocolate, before deciding that … oh, you supply your own corny joke). Alexei Leonov who at one time was “Chief Cosmonaut” (as well as being the first person to walk in space) was really positive about the intelligent approach that she brought to her job as an astronaut*.
  • Piers Sellers has a doctorate in biometeorology from the University of Leeds. He had to take out US citizenship to get his chance to go into space, but with the ESA route, that wouldn’t be necessary

I’m looking forward to checking all those CVs for astronaut applications already (but no, I can’t get one to come to Pathways).

* This might not be the last time I blog about astro stuff – my guilty secret is that I do have a track record in meeting these amazing people (due to my other half’s space obsession). The comment from Ed Mitchell is captured on (very poor quality) video

from when I asked him for advice for a PhD who was interested in becoming an astronaut, and the comments from Alexei Leonov were made last week to the aforementioned “other half”. I could go on name dropping – so don’t ask me unless you’ve got plenty of stamina…