22 February 2021

a 2 dimensional block colour image of an astronaut floating in space with a large planet and a spaceship in the background

Greater diversity is the focus of the latest search for more astronauts for the European Space Agency

Europe's premier Space Agency, the ESA, is holding a once in a decade opportunity (literally!)

Diversity and inclusion is the focus of their astronaut recruitment campaign, with the ESA seeking to recruit more women and people with disability who have dreamed of going to space.

It's the first time any Space Agency has opened recruitment to people with disability.

Only 65 of the more than 560 people who have ever gone into space have been women.

Of those 65 women just two have been European, which motivated the ESA to redress this balance.

"Interestingly, in terms of space flight, women's bodies and often people with disabilities adapt better to micro-gravity conditions" Associate Professor of Space Studies at Flinders University Alice Gorman said.

The project is called "The Parastronaut Feasbility Project".

Based on categories set by the International Paralympic Committee, the ESA will consider applications from individuals with specific lower limb deficiencies or below a particular height.

British astronaut Tim Peake welcomed the initiative, and said it would "hopefully change the landscape" so people from diverse backgrounds would "see that actually there is an opportunity here to become part of Europe's new space pioneers".

Read more about this world-first project via the ABC website


Anna Burchfield

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