The European Space Agency, which is recruiting new astronauts for the first time in 11 years, wants to find astronauts with disabilities who will also do science and work in space.

Applications will be submitted from March 31 to May 28, 2021, with selection results expected to be announced in October 2022. In general, all candidates must be citizens of a member country of the agency, hold a Master of Science, Medicine, Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science degree, or have test pilot qualifications. The applicant for the position must have at least three years of relevant professional experience and fluency in English and any other language.

Parastronaut feasibility project
Parastronaut feasibility project | Image: ESA

The agency also announced that they are looking for people with disabilities for the first time within the program. They are asking to submit resumes of people who have amputated limbs or have a congenital absence of limbs; people with different leg lengths; people with a height of less than 130 cm. The agency consulted with the International Paralympic Committee before announcing requirements for people with disabilities.

“In a first for ESA and human spaceflight worldwide, ESA is looking for individual(s) who are psychologically, cognitively, technically and professionally qualified to be an astronaut, but have a physical disability that would normally prevent them from being selected due to the requirements imposed by the use of current space hardware,” ESA says in a statement.

ESA wants to make the future selection of astronauts inclusive, therefore, in addition to people with disabilities, the agency encourages women to apply. The current team has only one woman, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.