Pole selected for European Space Agency's 'Astronaut Class of 2022'

2022-11-23 20:33 update: 2022-11-24, 11:25
A Polish scientist has been selected ahead of over 22,500 other candidates to join the European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Class of 2022, the Polish Space Agency (POLSA) told PAP on Wednesday.

Slawosz Uznanski was named in a group of 17 men and women chosen from the thousands who submitted an application in 2021 in response to the ESA’s call for new astronauts for missions to the International Space Station and beyond. He will be one of 11 from the class who will join the ESA Astronaut Reserve.

The names of the selected candidates were announced on Wednesday, following a meeting of the ESA Council.

"This is certainly one of the most important days of my life, but also a unique moment for Polish science and Polish participation in space exploration - recognition of our achievements and highlighting our potential," said Uznanski.

"As a Pole, I am proud to represent our country in the implementation of the joint European space programme. Our participation in it is already significant. I am convinced that it will be significantly larger," he added.

Uznanski defeated other applicants from all over Europe in the ESA qualifying rounds, which lasted 18 months. Candidates had to take various tests on their knowledge of space and space technology, and to demonstrate intelligence and computational efficiency, and an ability to solve timed complex and unusual problems.  

An advantage the Pole had is the experience he has gained working at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva as an operator of the Large Hadron Collider LHC. Uznanski is also involved in the design of radiation-resistant electronics, which must be used in space. 

His class of 17 will start a 12-month basic training course at the ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in spring 2023.

Six of the 17 will have ESA contracts while 11 will join the ESA Reserve. 

The former are practically guaranteed flights to the International Space Station (ISS), and perhaps even to one of NASA's lunar missions carried out with the participation of the ESA. Members of the astronaut reserve can join them at any time and will start intensive training if the ESA expands manned programmes, in particular the use of the ISS, POLSA said in a press release.  (PAP)