ESA Astronaut Selection


Direct Entry Job Permanent Europe Wide, Europe Wide

Uploaded 16 Feb 2021

Job Description

With 22 member states and 2 associate members, ESA is a truly transnational space agency. Nationals from all member states and associated member states may apply to the ESA astronaut and astronaut with physical disabilities vacancy notices.

This is an exciting and also a rare occasion as, before this, ESA has issued a call for astronauts only three times since 1978 – the most recent being in 2008. ESA plans to recruit 4-6 new astronauts through its 2021-22 selection process to support the future of European space exploration. This campaign will select astronauts as career astronauts (the astronaut corps) or into the newly created reserve pool of astronauts. Unlike career astronauts, reserve astronauts will not be permanent ESA staff, but could have the opportunity to be selected for specific projects, as project astronauts. They may also have the opportunity to become career astronauts in the future.

PLEASE NOTE: To apply, click the "Apply Now" button on the right of the screen. This will take you to ESA's official page with further information and instructions for application. Please do not send applications to 

Person Specification

Applicants must have a minimum of a Master’s degree from a recognised academic institution in Natural Sciences (including Physical Sciences; Earth, Atmosphere or Ocean Sciences; Biological Sciences), Medicine, Engineering or Mathematics/Computer Sciences, with at least three years of professional experience after graduation. This could include working in a lab, conducting research in the field or working in a hospital. A PhD or equivalent degree or additional Master’s degrees in the aforementioned subject areas are considered an asset.

A degree as Experimental Test Pilot and/or Test Engineer from an official Experimental Test Pilot School is also accepted. These institutions include EPNER (France), ETPS (England), USAF TPS (US Air Force) and USNTPS (US Navy). Commercial school NTPS is also included here. Candidates with these qualifications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and may be asked to provide a copy of their diploma or statement from their school regarding the level of the qualification.


  • The duties of an astronaut require moderate to arduous physical exertion involving walking, running, standing, heavy lifting, crouching, crawling, and exposure to inclement weather. Therefore, astronauts need to be willing to perform arduous physical activities as part of their duties.
  • Astronaut candidates will be required to pass a swimming test during the first month of training. Therefore, astronauts need to be willing to submit to a swimming test.
  • The duties of an astronaut require participation in flight operations in a parabolic flight aircraft to simulate microgravity and adjustment to zero gravity environments. Therefore, astronauts need to be willing to undergo this type of flight training.
  • To simulate microgravity in space, astronaut candidates and astronauts participate in training that requires extended time underwater (up to 8 hours a day), using SCUBA gear or the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU, or spacesuit). Therefore, astronauts need to be willing to spend extended time training underwater.
  • To be mobile in certain locations it is required to have a driving licence. Therefore, candidates, who do not yet possess a valid driving licence for their home country or an international driving licence, need to be willing to obtain one.
  • It is paramount that astronauts work well in a team, even in confined spaces and under stressful conditions. Therefore, it is considered an asset if applicants have already had opportunities to support effective teamwork to reach challenging group objectives.
  • Space travel is associated with many risks and dangers. Therefore, it is considered an asset if applicants have had to experience activities associated with personal exposure, which required from them a sound risk management capability.
  • An applicant to the astronaut vacancy should be able to pass a European Part-MED, Class 2 medical examination (Private Pilot medical certificate), conducted by an Aviation Medical Examiner certified by their national Aviation Medical Authority.
  • An applicant to the astronaut (with physical disabilities) vacancy shall provide  a medical certificate issued in English by any physician and stating that, if not for your disability, you would comply with the medical requirements of the European Part-MED, Class 2 (Private Pilot) medical certificate. These requirements are available here. In a second stage you might be requested to provide a medical report and associated documentation related to your disability. Applicants will be instructed individually.
  • The applicant must be free from any disease.
  • The applicant must be free from any dependency on drugs, alcohol or tobacco.
  • The applicant must have the normal range of motion and functionality in all joints. This requirement does not apply to the applicants to the astronaut with physical disabilities vacancy.
  • The applicant must have visual acuity in both eyes of 100% (20/20 vision) naturally or after correction with glasses or contact lenses.
  • The applicant must be free from psychiatric disorders.
  • The applicant must demonstrate cognitive, mental and personality capabilities to allow them to work efficiently in an intellectually and socially demanding environment.