Almost 2,000 Brits apply to become astronauts with European Space Agency

Almost 2,000 British people have applied to become astronauts with the European Space Agency.

They were among 22,500 applications to the ESA – more than double the amount it received after its previous call for astronauts back in 2008.

Between four and six career astronauts will join the ESA as permanent staff, and there will be a reserve of up to 20 people who will stay with their current employers until a flight opportunity is identified for them.

Some 24% of applicants were female, up from 5% in 2008, while 257 people applied to be a parastronaut.

It is the ESA’s first vacancy for a physically disabled astronaut, who will help to determine adaptations needed to serve in a space crew.

ESA director general Josef Aschbacher said: “This is probably historic – having so many applications for a handful of jobs.

“It also shows space is very high on the agenda of young people, it is a dream job.”

David Parker, ESA director of human and robotic exploration, said: “There is more to be done to achieve gender balance in the space sector.

“Representing all parts of our society is a concern we take very seriously.”

Britain’s Major Tim Peake is expected to make his second space flight around 2024/2025.