British astronaut Major Tim Peake has urged Britons to apply for jobs as astronauts as the European Space Agency (ESA) recruits space explorers for the first time since 2008.
The new astronauts will first fly to the International Space Station and are likely to be part of missions to the moon in the latter part of this decade.
Successful applicants will be subjected to intensive training, which includes a three-week course in caving and a course in geology (there’s more details on how to apply this March here.)
— Tim Peake (@astro_timpeake) February 16, 2021
Major Tim Peake said: “Over the next few years and decades, space exploration will become even more exciting as we travel back to the moon and even further to Mars.
“For space missions to succeed, they require highly motivated people from diverse backgrounds to combine their skills and work as a team."
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He added: “The next generation of UK citizens have so much to offer the world, and so I would encourage anyone who has dreamt of pushing the boundaries of what is possible to take this opportunity to be part of ESA’s future cohort of space pioneers.”
British citizens of any age are invited to apply, and ESA is also issuing a special call for candidates with physical disabilities to apply to its astronaut reserve.
The pilot project aims to open the astronaut career path to people who, until now, have been excluded from space flight.
Those with a lower limb deficiency or who are considered to be of short stature and meet other recruitment criteria are invited to apply.
ESA will invest in the necessary adaptations of space hardware to enable these otherwise qualified professionals to serve as crew members on a safe space mission
Candidates will need a master’s degree (or higher) and a minimum of three years’ experience in natural sciences, medicine, engineering, mathematics or computer sciences.
In 1989, Helen Sharman became the first British astronaut when she was selected for the joint UK-Soviet Union mission, Juno.
In May 1991, she spent eight days in space and became the first female astronaut to visit the Mir Space Station.
Peake was the next British astronaut and in 2015 became the first Briton to live on the International Space Station.
Earlier this year, ESA chiefs said that a European astronaut could fly to the moon before the end of the decade.
ESA director-general Jan Woerner said: "What I heard all the time – also during the Trump administration – but what we heard from Nasa is that the schedule to go to the moon and land people on the surface of the moon in 2024 is really difficult.
"Therefore I believe that now, with all these changes, the pressure is a little bit off, and therefore I believe there will be humans on the surface of the moon soon.
"And maybe – I don’t have a crystal ball – but let’s say I’m sure that in 2025/2026 there will be something.
"I hope that we will have some European at the end of this decade over there."
NASA last year revealed new details of its plan to put a woman on the moon by 2024, including the cost and planned landing site for the mission.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine described the mission as “well within reach”, saying it is a first step towards meeting the US's ambition of a manned mission to Mars.
It would be the first time people have walked on the moon since the last Apollo moon mission in 1972.
Just 12 people have walked on the moon - all men.
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NASA flew six manned missions to the surface of the moon, beginning with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in July 1969, up to Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt in December 1972.
The mission will use NASA’s powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System, and the Orion spacecraft.
NASA says the spacecraft is complete while the core stage and its attached four engines are undergoing a final series of tests that will culminate in a critical hot fire test this autumn.
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