Meet the new Euronauts – POLITICO


PARIS — The European Space Agency unveiled its next generation of astronauts on Wednesday, five of whom are expected to begin their year-long basic training in April.

The main criterion was « to make sure they push the right buttons and not the wrong ones », joked Josef Aschbacher, director general of ESA, who conducted the latest round of interviews.

In addition to the five main astronauts, a reserve list has been drawn up which includes a disabled Briton, John McFall, who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident aged 19 and will help ESA to study the possibility of sending a para-astronaut into space. .

The space explorer announcement, which came on the sidelines of ESA’s triennial funding summit in Paris, marks the first time in 13 years that the agency has welcomed new European space explorers; the final candidates were narrowed down in six rounds from 22,253 candidates.

The new cohort will eventually replace the likes of French Coldplay mega-fan Thomas Pesquet and Italian Samantha Cristoforetti, a once-resident barista on the International Space Station, as they retire from active duty.

There’s even a chance that one of the debutants could be the first European to land on the moon, if ESA can strike a deal with NASA that would free up a seat on one of the Artemis missions to the lunar surface early. of the 2030s.

Here is the team:

Sophie Adenot

Nationality: French

Fun fact: She is a career officer in the French Air Force and a helicopter test pilot with more than 3,000 accumulated flight hours. His master’s thesis was on how the vestibular system adapts to artificial changes in gravity, which will surely come in handy.

Pablo Alvarez Fernandez

Nationality: Spanish

Fun fact: He’s an engineer who currently works in Madrid, but says he’s lived across Europe and worked on the ExoMars rover project, which was once a major joint venture with Russia’s Roscosmos.

Rosemary Coogan

Nationality: British (but would like to emphasize that she is European)

Fun fact: A Royal Navy reservist who has done a doctorate. in astrophysics, she now works with the French space agency CNES. She lived in Germany and spent time as a guest astronomer at an observatory in Hawaii.

Raphael Liegeois

Nationality: Belgian

Fun fact: He is a hot air balloon pilot and took a four-month bicycle trip from Singapore to Belgium to meet poets along the way. He completed a doctorate. in neurosciences in Liège in 2015 and has since worked as a researcher.

Marco Siber

Nationality: Swiss

Fun fact: Emergency doctor currently studying neurology after training as a parachutist in the Swiss special forces. “I love anything to do with flying, paragliding, skydiving,” he says.


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