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Five New ESA Astronauts

Published on 23 November 2022

On November 23 in Paris, the European Space Agency (ESA) presented its selection of seventeen astronauts, including five career ones. The group of five is comprised of three men and two women including the French woman, Sophie Adenot.

Five New ESA Astronauts

At the conclusion of the ministerial-level meeting of the Member States of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Paris, after a short delay, came the long-awaited moment of the outcome of the selection of astronauts which began on March 31 of last year.

Seventeen Astronauts, Including Five Career Astronauts

As part of the Grand Palais Ephémère, and thirteen years after the previous selection which in particular saw the arrival of Thomas Pesquet among the ESA astronauts, the agency revealed the seventeen people selected from more than 23,000 applicants.
At the beginning of 2022, it was revealed that 1,362 applications met the first criteria, 39% of which were from women. In the end, seventeen astronauts (reservists , parastronauts and career astronauts) were presented by ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.

The seventeen ESA astronauts in the 2022 selection. From left to right and top to bottom: Aleš Svoboda (Czech Republic ), Amelie Schoenenwald (Germany), Andrea Patassa (Italy), Anthea Comellini (Italy), Arnaud Prost (France), Meganne Christian (United Kingdom), Marcus Wandt (Sweden) , Marco Sieber (Switzerland), Nicola Winter (Germany), Carmen Possnig (Austria), Pablo Álvarez Fernández (Spain), John McFall (United Kingdom), Sara García Alonso (Spain), Rosemary Coogan (United Kingdom), Raphaël Liégeois ( Belgium), Sophie Adenot (France) and Sławosz Uznański (Poland).
Credit: ESA

It is notable that this first selection is comprised of eight women and nine men, very close to parity. Eleven of the seventeen will be members of the astronaut reserve. They therefore retain their current job with the possibility of consultant contracts for the agency and will be called upon to reinforce the body of astronauts if flight opportunities arise. This applies to Aleš Svoboda, Amelie Schoenenwald, Andrea Patassa, Anthea Comellini, Arnaud Prost, Meganne Christian, Marcus Wandt, Nicola Winter, Carmen Possnig, Sara García Alonso and Sławosz Uznański.

On November 23, those present at Cité de l’ espace in Toulouse were able to follow the presentation of the selection of new European astronauts with commentary from ESA astronaut Philippe Perrin and Vanille Delfau (Head of Mediation at Cité de l’ Espace).

Credit: F. Monge/ Cité de l’espace

The five new European career astronauts during their presentation by ESA on 23 November in Paris.
Credit: Cité de l’espace  / ESA

Britain’s John McFall , a medical graduate and right leg amputee at the age of 19, will take part in the parastronaut project which aims to study whether a person with a physical disability can become an astronaut.


Those known as career astronauts, who will therefore join the ESA staff and undergo training for their new job, are French woman Sophie Adenot (engineer,  Air and Space Force pilot), the Briton Rosemary Coogan (doctor in astronomy), the Spaniard Pablo Álvarez Fernández (aerospace engineer) , the Belgian Raphaël Liégeois (doctor in neuroscience) and the Swiss Marco Alain Sieber (doctor of medicine).

Sophie Adenot, Inspired by Claudie Haigneré

Also a helicopter test pilot and a graduate of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, Sophie Adenot said she was inspired by her compatriot, Claudie Haigneré. The first French woman in space (two missions in 1996 and 2001), she is also the patron of Cité de l’espace in Toulouse. As part of her duties at ESA, she has worked hard to ensure that women did not hesitate to apply for this selection. Moreover, the ratio of two women among the five new career astronauts corresponds to the 39 % of applications from women chosen from the initial selection (1,362 out of more than 23,000).
Contacted by Cité de l’espace, Claudie Haigneré emphasised that the ESA 2022 selection had “much more diversity” which will make it possible to “progress a situation which is not yet completely satisfactory since today 15 % of astronauts who have flown are female.” She also notes that Sophie Adenot, in addition to having a very extensive CV, is ” a woman very committed to the attractiveness of science and technology, involved in schools on these subjects.” 
The selection of Sophie Adenot and her colleagues from other European countries for this new generation of ESA astronauts should therefore play an important part promoting scientific and technological careers for women.

On his Twitter account, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet posted this photo where he is in the company of his selected compatriots: Sophie Adenot (career astronaut) and Arnaud Prost (reservist) .
Credit: Thomas Pesquet’s Twitter account

Video recording of the announcement of the new selection of ESA astronauts on November 23, 2022 in Paris.

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