On Friday, The European Space Agency hopes to hire and launch the world’s first physically disabled astronaut and several hundred would-be para-astronauts have already applied for the role, ESA head Josef Aschbacher said.
The 22-member space programme has just closed its latest decennial recruitment call for astronauts and received 22,000 applicants, Aschbacher said.
“We would like to launch an astronaut with a disability, which would be the first time ever,” the Austrian added. “But I’m also happy for ESA because it shows that space is for everyone, and that’s something I’d like to convey.”
The ESA, whose Ariane rocket once dominated the market for commercial satellite launches, faces ever stiffer competition from tech-funded upstarts like Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.