According to its press service, the European Space Agency (ESA) is looking for new astronauts for the first time in 11 years, as Europe "enters a new era of space exploration."

The site with applications is promised to open on March 31, and the generational change in the agency will start with them. The details for applicants are promised to be presented on February 16 at a virtual press conference.

"To go farther than we ever have before, we need to look wider than we ever have before. This recruitment process is the first step and I look forward to watching the agency develop across all areas of space exploration and innovation, with our international partners, in the years to come," said ESA director general Jan Wörner in the statement.

The agency urges all population segments to actively apply, especially women, as they want to achieve gender equality among astronauts. They also note that other vacancies are suitable for people with disabilities.

The vacancies for astronauts will be open until May 28. Future astronauts can apply on the ESA Career website. After that, a six-stage selection process will begin, which is expected to end in October 2022.

The European Space Agency is an international organization dedicated to space exploration and the practical use of artificial satellites. Its headquarters are in Paris. ESA employs about 2 thousand workers, and its annual budget as of 2016 reached nearly 5.25 billion euros.