The European Space Agency (ESA) is opening a new astronaut selection campaign from 31 March to 28 May 2021. Candidates must be aged 27 to 50, have professional experience and hold a Master’s or equivalent degree (or higher) in science or engineering. All details are available on the CNES website.
CNES is engaging its efforts to inspire and motivate French applicants to guarantee that:
⦁ France will be a prime player, through ESA, in the scientific and technological challenges of the new era of international space exploration, by strengthening its presence in Europe’s astronaut corps.
⦁ The new generation of French astronauts will be involved in future missions to the International Space Station (ISS) and to the Gateway lunar orbital platform within the 2025 timeframe, and probably before the end of the decade to the surface of the Moon through the Artemis programme aiming to pave the way in the longer term for crewed missions to Mars.
France is a pioneer in European human spaceflight with ten astronauts, including General Jean-Loup Chrétien, the first Frenchman in space in 1982, and Claudie Haigneré, a doctor of neuroscience and the first Frenchwoman in space in 1996. Thomas Pesquet, selected in 2009, will be making his way to the ISS for a second six-month sojourn from 22 April during which he will be station commander for part of his mission.
Such prowess is largely down to the federating role played by CNES, which for 60 years has sustained the scientific and technical excellence of the French ecosystem of research laboratories and manufacturers. It is thus closely involved in developing large-scale robotic and human exploration programmes, in ISS operations, construction of the Gateway platform and laying the groundwork for crewed missions beyond low Earth orbit.
France will also be aboard the ISS via ESA’s Alpha mission, with 12 experiments in the domains of medicine, biology and fluid physics aimed at developing microgravity applications and space operations. A ‘team France’ will be assisting Thomas Pesquet to accomplish this science programme.