Young people today love adventure and they feel the job of an astronaut would suit them fine. They have been impressed with plans of major Space agencies to send manned missions to the moon and Mars. However, the options are limited. The European Space Agency ESA is in need of a few astronauts and, received more than 22,000 applications. It was more than three times the numbers it received in the previous recruitment drive of 2008. During a media briefing, officials of ESA revealed increase in the number of women applicants. In 2008, it was 1,287 and this time it is 5,419.

Josef Aschbacher is the Director General of ESA. He said: "I think this is really showing that the competition is high."

Space reports that the recruitment process runs into six stages. Right now, scrutiny of applications is in progress. The second stage of the plan is the psychological assessment for 1500 shortlisted applicants. ESA would announce the names of successful candidates of the new European astronaut class in late 2022.

Would-be astronauts are from all 22 ESA member states

ESA would recruit about four to six staff astronauts, including women, in the first instance. There would also be one astronaut with physical disabilities. Among the applicants, 257 candidates are in the category of those with disabilities.

Sixteen of them are women. The agency would also recruit a team of about 20 reserve astronauts. They would remain in their current jobs and fly to space provided there is an opportunity. David Parker is ESA's director of human and robotic exploration. He explains the reason for having an astronaut with disabilities on board the space station.

Space quotes him saying – “What we want to establish is the feasibility for an astronaut with a disability to also undertake meaningful science." Candidates would have to undergo various tests for evaluation of their resilience to stress and ability to involve in teamwork. They must also be medically fit. Their levels of fitness would have to be of a high standard because the nature of work involved in space would be totally different to what one experiences on Earth.

Officials of the ESA would interview the top 40 candidates to select the best six. They would join the existing astronauts. In January last year, NASA has already inducted a team of astronauts for its Artemis mission to the Moon and Mars.

Maximum number of would-be astronauts are from France

The number of hopefuls from France outnumbered those from other European countries like Germany, the U.K., Italy and Spain. in order to be effective, the astronauts have to possess knowledge of Artificial Intelligence, robotics and renewable energy. Space adds that a French astronaut is presently at the International Space Station ISS. The new recruits would initially fly to the ISS and could even be a part of future missions of NASA and travel to the Moon or Mars.

Incidentally, NASA and ESA have joined hands in the Mars Sample Return program.

Nearly 2000 people of Britain want to become astronauts of the ESA

According to Mirror UK, nearly 2,000 people from the UK have submitted applications to become astronauts with the European Space Agency. Many of them are women. The 2000 odd are out of more than 22,500 total applications. ESA director general describes the huge response as “historic” in his opinion, “space is very high on the agenda of young people, it is a dream job.” ESA plans to recruit between four and six career astronauts as permanent staff. In addition, there would be up to 20 people as reserve.