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European Space Agency Seeks Disabled Astronauts and Women to Space

Thursday, 1 July 2021 -

For a long time, the space traveling stories have only been dominated by physically- abled men.

We have not heard about a woman going to the space, and if there is any, then the news has not yet reached us. However, the Europe's Space Agency (ESA) is spearheading a campaign that stresses the importance of representation from all facets of society.

The agency has revealed that it received applications from 25 associate member nations, with the majority coming from the UK, Germany, France, and Italy.

In a first-of-its-kind effort to champion inclusivity, the European Space Agency (ESA) is seeking to include people with disabilities, and as well adopt necessary strategies that would ensure space stations accommodate everyone.

And while the agency isn’t specifically looking to address ethnic diversity, the hiring campaign is seeking representation from all parts of society.

Fierce Competition for Places

There are four to six slots for those looking to be on the list of Europe’s next astronauts. And while there is a provisional reserve team of 20 people, the competition for places is stillfierce nonetheless. Over the next ten months, the candidates are scheduled to undergo intensive training that will see a final list come out around mid-2022.

More Needed for Diversity and Representation

To date, the European Space Agency has managed to send only two women (Samantha Cristoforetti and Claudie Haignere) into space. However, the ESA is looking to increase that number and as well consider representation from people living with disabilities.

Speaking to the press, ESA Director Josef Aschbacher said that the agency has been encouraged by the numerous applicantswho have come forth: a positive indicator that people across Europe are growing in enthusiasm and are taking a keen interest in space.

David Parker, ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration also added that while close to 5500 women applied for the forthcoming ESA space program, that number indicates huge gender disparities in the space sector, and more is needed to achieve gender balance. Additionally, the numbers don’t get any better when you look at the global representation. To date, out of the over 560 people to have explored space, only 65 are women (mostly Americans), a 12% gender representation.

More in Funding from The EU Going Forward

In measures that indicate solidarity, the European Union this week signed an agreement with the ESA that will see more funding and support for Europe's space agency by all EU’s 27 associate member states. Part of the deal will see the EU invest $11 billion between 2021 and 2027 that will fund digitization and environmental protection research programs.

And as outlined by ESA Director, the space agency is looking to launch landmark programs in the future. Among others, ESA is planning to test the use of a quantum encryption system on its space satellites, while the other program planned for the future will see the ESA launch the space monitor for potentially hazardous debris.

(Written and edited by: The Decision Maker Team)


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