Do you dream of one day being allowed to travel in space? It’s not impossible, but it takes a lot to cope with the tough demands of astronauts’ psyche. There are also some physical requirements that can be an obstacle for many in the dream to explore space.
The only body in Europe that recruits astronauts is the European Space Agency, ESA. They have only organized recruitments three times: 1978, 1992 and 2008. Of course, if you are willing to relocate to the United States, NASA is also a potential recruiter.
An astronaut must be fully healthy – for example, you cannot have heart problems. Another obstacle for many is that you have to be a certain length; one must neither be too long nor too short. Finally, some tests have to be done to see if the body can withstand the stresses that a space trip entails, for example by turning in a centrifuge.
In terms of education, the requirements are less rigorous. While it was previously common for astronauts to be basically combat pilots, they now come from a more diverse background. However, a higher education in science or technology is more or less a prerequisite. Astronauts today work for example as doctors, veterinarians and as researchers in the natural sciences.
In addition to the right education and the right physical conditions, you also have to have some personal qualities in order to become an astronaut. For example, it is easy to work in a group, because you will live and work with others for a long period of time and in confined spaces. Of course, in addition to collaboration, this also requires mental strength – being an astronaut is not for those with claustrophobia.
In other words, the odds of becoming an astronaut are small, even at NASA, which has more recruits. At the latest, in 2017, there were more than 18,000 applicants, of whom only 8-14 were eventually adopted as astronauts.