The European Space Agency introduces a new generation of astronauts, including a Belgian

The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected 17 new astronaut candidates from more than 22,500 applicants from all Member States. In this new 2022 class of ESA astronauts are five professional astronauts, 11 members of an astronaut reserve and one astronaut with a disability.

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher introduced the members of ESA’s 2022 class of astronauts, the first additions in 13 years, today at the Grand Palais Éphémère in Paris, France, shortly after the conclusion of ESA’s Ministerial Council.

Today we welcome the 17 members of the new ESA Astronaut Class 2022. This ESA Astronaut Class brings with it ambition, talent and diversity in many different forms – to fuel our efforts and our future.

“The continuous exploration in low-Earth orbit on the International Space Station to the moon – and beyond‘ said ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.

ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker added: “This is an extraordinary time for human spaceflight and for Europe. Following the successful launch of Artemis I with ESA’s European Service Module powering Orion to the Moon, we are at the forefront of manned space exploration. We are excited to have this group of extremely talented people to continue European science and operations on the International Space Station and beyond.”

ESA’s new astronaut candidates will begin their duties at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany. They are trained to the highest standards set by the International Space Station partners.

Frank De Winne, Head of the European Astronaut Center and Program Manager of ESA’s International Space Station, said: “We are excited to welcome the new ESA astronaut class of 2022 and I look forward to seeing all these ambitious young astronaut candidates joining us for their first training at ESA’s European Astronaut Center in spring 2023 and looking forward to the to explore and shape space exploration.”

Upon completion of 12 months of basic training, new astronauts are ready for the next phase of space station training and, once assigned to a mission, will be tailored to specific mission duties.

For the first time, ESA has set up a reserve pool of astronauts. This reserve list consists of astronaut candidates who have been successful throughout the selection process but cannot be recruited at this time. Astronauts on the reserve remain with their current employers and receive a consulting contract and basic care. They begin basic training if a flight opportunity is identified.

ESA also selected an astronaut candidate with a physical disability. He will participate in the Parastronaut Feasibility Project to develop options for including astronauts with physical disabilities in human spaceflight and potential future missions.

The ESA astronaut class 2022 consists of five professional astronauts, 11 reserve astronauts and one astronaut with a physical disability.

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