The next chapter begins!

I’ve got some exciting news! I submitted an application to become an Astronaut with the European Space Agency and I made it through the initial application sift!

Back in around February, the official timeline was released for the European Space Agency to once again invite applications from across Europe for 6 people to join the Astronaut Corps (plus 20 reserves). I was thrilled when it seemed that I would meet the essential requirements and desirable criteria (a mix of educational, experiential and medical) and I couldn’t wait for applications to open.

Applications opened on 31st March and one of my best friends kindly printed the ESA Astronaut Handbook for me to read. This document lays out the selection stages in so much more detail than I expected!

The Astronaut Selection Process extracted from the European Space Agency Astronaut Handbook

The first phase of the application involved submitting a CV in a Europass format along with a motivation letter, answering a questionnaire with lots of questions about time spent in various circumstances (including hiking in extreme environments, doing field work) and also undergoing the same medical examination needed for a private pilots license.

Most of the application was straightforward, I particularly enjoyed writing my motivation letter – it made it feel so real and exciting.

Only the aviation medical was a pain. I found that there was only one aviation medicine doctor in the area and she really wasn’t a very friendly person. She was condescending and rude to me during our time together and in emails. I didn’t bring all of the right things with me (I needed a particular type of eye exam before arriving for the full medical for example). Anyway, the less said about this now, the better, but it really was a horrible experience. After two trips way outside of Bristol to see this doctor and an anxious wait, I finally held in my hands a medical certificate and I was ready to submit the application in early June!!

It was really exciting but I had to try and push it to one side because I knew it could be MONTHS before I heard anything back. Luckily, my day job obliged and I was thoroughly distracted by a hectic couple of months.

In late August I received an email from ESA that began with the word “Congratulations!” just as I was packing for a weekend away where I would be both a bridesmaid AND groomsman at my friends’ wedding. What a great way to start the weekend!

To be continued…

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