The European space agency ESA will start the search for new astronauts from March, the organization reports on Monday.

It is the first time since 2009 that the European Astronaut Corps is looking for new recruits.

A special trajectory will also be opened for astronauts with a physical disability, the Parastronaut Feasibility Project.

It is still unknown exactly what this process will look like.

From March 31 to May 28, 2021, aspiring astronauts can register with ESA.

A major recruiting campaign starts on February 16.

After 28 May, a large-scale selection process consisting of six rounds will start and by October 2022 it should become clear which Europeans will become space travelers.

"We want to represent all members of our society," said David Parker, ESA's director of Human and Robotic Exploration.

For example, ESA is aiming for a diverse group of new astronauts and the world's first project for aspiring astronauts with a physical disability is also launched.

What this Parastronaut Feasibility Project will look like is as yet unknown, but according to Parker the world is "ready".

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Last selection round was in 2009

The last selection round included the German Alexander Gerst, the Italian Samantha Cristoforetti and the French Thomas Pesquet.

The Dutchman André Kuipers was selected by ESA in 1998.

French astronaut Pesquet will become the first European to take a seat in the commercial astronaut capsule of space company SpaceX in spring 2021.

That capsule first brought astronauts to the International Space Station in May 2020, becoming the first commercial spacecraft to do so.


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