European Space Agency invites astronaut applicants for 2021 intake

The European Space Agency (ESA) is inviting applications for its 2021 astronaut intake.

Qualified candidates of all genders are encouraged to apply.

Applications opened on March 31, 2021.

In addition to recruiting able-bodied new members to its astronaut corps, ESA is also seeking people with physical disabilities to participate in the agency ‘Parastronaut’ feasibility project.

This project is a global first to begin removing barriers for people living with physical disabilities to carry out a professional space mission, said ESA.

May 28, 2021 deadline

All applications for both vacancies must be submitted via the ESA Careers website latest by May 28, 2021.

Following this deadline, a six-stage selection process will start. Successful candidates are expected to be appointed in October 2022.

European astronauts on the International Space Station programme. Credit: ESA

David Parker, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, said: “Representing all parts of our society is a concern that we take very seriously.

“Diversity at ESA should not only address the origin, age, background or gender of our astronauts, but also perhaps physical disabilities.

“To make this dream a reality, alongside the astronaut recruitment, I am launching the Parastronaut Feasibility Project – an innovation whose time has come.”

Further information on the vacancies as well as the ESA astronaut selection process and astronaut training is available at

Becoming an ESA astronaut is no easy feat, but the only guaranteed way for those who meet the minimum requirements to miss out on selection is to not submit an application.

This message has been reiterated by the ESA astronaut class of 2009, including the soon-to-fly Thomas Pesquet who said not applying in ESA’s last selection round would have been “the biggest mistake of my life”.

Pesquet said: “The most selective step is whether or not you are going to apply.

“There’s maybe one in a thousand people who are going to be picked up, but there is one in a million who will apply. So please, please, please – apply, apply, apply,” he added.

Pesquet is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station for his second mission, known as Alpha, on April 22, 2021.

The first mission of ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer is scheduled for October, and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is expected to launch on her second mission in spring 2022.