There are many young people looking for jobs outside Greece – even in space.
A total of 280 Greeks applied for astronaut positions advertised by the European Space Agency (ESA), among 25,589 applications submitted by all member states.
The total number of applications shows a dramatic increase by two and a half times compared to the previous ESA announcement in 2008.
A significant increase is also recorded in applications from women, whose percentage jumped from 15.5% in 2008 to 20% this year.
“My first reaction is it is: ‘Stunning.’” said Josef Aschbacher, the agency’s director general. “This is probably historic – having so many applications, for at the end, a handful of jobs.”
“I think this is really showing that the competition is high, but I really wish every single applicant all the best of luck,” he added.
With the announcement, ESA created for the first time an astronaut position for people with physical disabilities, for which a total of 200 applications were submitted.
ESA will offer contracts to four to six people for full-time astronaut positions, and up to 20 more people will join a reserve team.
“It is a long process, but it’s probably one of the most exciting jobs everyone can think of, and I’m very thrilled having seen these numbers.
“I think it also shows that space is very high on the agenda of young people, it is a dream job – being an astronaut – and this is the best proof of what we have seen.
“So yes, it’s fascinating to see these numbers.”
ESA director of human and robotic exploration, David Parker, said:
“It is pleasing to see an increase in the gender distribution of applicants to this astronaut selection, but the numbers also show there is more to be done to achieve gender balance in the space sector.
“Representing all parts of our society is a concern that we take very seriously.
“I’m looking forward to seeing which of these applicants will join our existing astronaut corps and help contribute to that representation both on Earth and in space.”
The ESA is still also using its existing pool of astronauts for missions, and British astronaut Major Tim Peake is expected to make his second flight in around 2024/2025.
The winners are scheduled to be announced at the end of 2022.
ESA does not have the capability to launch astronauts on its own, but European astronauts often travel to the International Space Station.
READ MORE: Athens from the International Space Station.