• The first selection phase of the European Space Agency with a view to recruiting new astronauts is coming to an end.

    Of the 22,589 Europeans who applied last spring, ESA planned to keep 1,500 after studying the CVs.

  • Clement Huber is in the lot.

    He was summoned to Hamburg on December 6 to move on to phase 2, that of psycho-cognitive tests.

    A stage that the 29-year-old Grenoblois dreads and for which he is preparing for several hours a day.

  • He answers the questions of

    20 Minutes.

They are 22,589 to have tried the coup.

22,589 Europeans - including 7,137 French - to have responded to the call for applications from the European Space Agency (ESA), which is seeking to recruit at least four Europeans - perhaps six - to expand its current "pool" of seven astronauts , among which the French Thomas Pesquet.

The skimming will be tough to free from the pile of resumes, by October 2022, the best profiles.

It has already started, with the study of application files and the first invitations of candidates to take psycho-cognitive tests.

1,500 candidates will be selected for this second stage, predicted Antonella Costa, from ESA human resources, during a press point on June 23.

Clément Hubert is in the lot.

The 29-year-old Grenoblois will visit the ESA assessment center in Hamburg on December 6.

In the home stretch of his preparation, he confides in

20 Minutes

.

Can we already start by going back on your journey?

I grew up in Grenoble where I lived until the end of my preparatory class.

I continued my training at the National School of Advanced Techniques (ENSTA).

I graduated from this engineering school in 2016, after doing my last year at Supaéro [Toulouse engineering school specializing in aeronautics and aerospace].

I have long wanted to work in aeronautics, I finally specialized in the design and construction of autonomous vehicles.

I worked for four years in this field, within Navya Group.

Until the summer of 2020, when I decided to join the army and resume training at Saint-Cyr.

I wanted to become an infantry officer.

In the end, I didn't join the active army, but the reserve.

Since June, I have been a reserve officer in the mountain troops and am based in Grenoble.

Beside, I resumed an engineering job, at the beginning of October, at Diabeloop, a company that works to automate the regulation of blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.

What prompted you to apply to join the ESA Astronaut Pool?

Everything makes me dream about being an astronaut. Conduct scientific experiments in the field, under specific - not to say extreme conditions. This combination of the two has always attracted me. Unconsciously, I built my career on this balance. In particular by joining the reserve army, but I have always also done a lot of sport. Gymnastics for a long time but also climbing, running or skiing today.

Above all, an astronaut, it's a job that makes sense, in which you feel useful.

We do not send astronauts into space and we do not plan to bring them to Mars just to show that we are able to do it, but because there are key answers to seek to better understand the birth of the Earth, its functioning.

The technologies developed in space then infuse regularly into our daily lives.

In my current field of activity, for example, they have enabled the development of improved insulin pumps for people with diabetes.

We assume that you jumped to the ceiling when you learned of your summons to Hamburg ...

I received the email from ESA a fortnight ago now. It is late compared to other candidates with whom I am in contact and who, for some, have even passed their psycho-cognitive tests. I suppose that the ESA was a little overwhelmed by these more than 22,000 applications received [+268% compared to 2008] and that they had to launch the invitations to the tests before having peeled all the CVs I must admit that I was beginning to despair and I would have been very disappointed not to take the first step.

But I was not euphoric on receiving my summons either. I haven't had much credit so far. I just sent a CV, a cover letter - on which I spent a month anyway - and a medical certificate from a doctor approved in aviation medicine. Now is the time to get serious and these psycho-cognitive tests may even be the most difficult step for me to take. We will most certainly be tested on our logic, our short memory, our speed to think. I know I'm not necessarily comfortable with it, but it can be worked on, there are methods to develop. This is what I have been working on for the past two weeks, two hours a day and even more on weekends.I practice in particular on the psychotechnical tests for airplane pilots posed for the selection of Air France.

How many candidates will be selected at the end of this second stage?

ESA did not specify.

Either way, there is still a long way to go.

There will only be four astronauts and twenty reservists.

Even with "more" than 1,500 candidates in the running, we still have a one in 100 chance of being chosen.

So I don't get carried away.

I would just be disappointed to go out on this second stage when I think my qualities could be more highlighted in the rest of the selection process.

What are the strong points of your application?

I think I have a profile that may interest them because it is quite complete compared to their expectations. I have both the scientific side with my training and my job as an engineer, but also the operational side through my commitment to the reserve army and my sporting practice. I have also worked for the past six months to fill in the gaps in my CV. For example, I had passed my basic airplane pilot's license when I was 16, but I had stopped piloting over the years. I went back to it and prepare for the private pilot license. I also passed the level 1 diver's certificate. I know that speaking Russian could be a plus. So I started taking lessons through my personal training account ...

So much for the CV.

In the skills required, ESA will undoubtedly pay attention to the candidates' ability to learn and adapt quickly and to remain calm and lucid in many situations.

I feel like I'm pretty good on these two aspects.

I also think I am sociable, a quality that matters to an astronaut.

Especially when it comes to spending six months with the same crew in a space as confined as the International Space Station (ISS) for example.

Science

How does the European Space Agency recruit its astronauts?

Science

Space: What can these new astronauts who are about to recruit the European Space Agency hope for?

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  • Space conquest

  • Thomas Pesquet

  • Astronaut

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