PARIS (AP) – The The European Space Agency is conducting its first recruitment campaign in 11 years and is highlighting its desire to achieve greater diversity.
The European counterpart of NASA is trying to recruit more female astronauts this year, as well as people with disabilities who always dream of going into space.
“We are looking at the moon… and Mars.” We need the best astronauts for the future. ‘”To go further than ever, we need to look wider than before.”
Of the more than 560 people, only 65 who have ever been to space are women. 51 of those 65 women were American. ESA has sent only two women into space – Claudie Hagner and Samantha Cristoforti – and is now trying to capitalize on the imbalance.
The European agency says that “the time has come” to put people with disabilities into space as part of an initiative known as the Parastronet Physics Project. According to the ESA, this is the first time that a space agency has opened the application process for people with disabilities.
“Representing all parts of our society is a concern that we take very seriously,” said David Parker, the agency’s human and robotic explosive director. “Diversity in the ESA should address not only the origin, age, background or gender of our astronauts, but also physical disabilities.”
British astronaut Tim Peake welcomed the approach, saying “it will hopefully change the landscape” so that people of diverse backgrounds will “see that there is indeed an opportunity here to be part of Europe’s new space pioneers.”
Agency officials say the application process will take some 18 months before successful astronauts are selected.
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