The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected five new career astronaut candidates. They will be trained with lectures in several fields, including aerospace engineering by the Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart. These lectures are part of the Astronaut Basic Training and have already been provided by IRS back in 2009 and 2015. The selection of the University of Stuttgart is based on the existing high-leveled knowledge and teaching experience in space engineering.
In March 2019, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced the call for new astronauts. On November, 23rd 2022, the selected candidates were presented to the public: Five career astronauts (full-time) as well as eleven members of the astronaut reserve (to enter training later or for specific missions).
ESA has selected five astronauts for future missions
The five career astronauts are Sophie Adenot (France, helicopter test pilot), Pablo Álvarez Fernández (Spain, aerospace engineer), Rosemary Coogan (UK, PhD in astronomy), Raphael Liégois (Belgium, PhD in neuroscience) and Marco Sieber (Switzerland, doctor of medicine).
Among the reserve astronauts, Amelie Schoenenwald and Nicola Winter are the first German female astronaut candidates. Additionally, ESA has selected a Parastronaut for the first time, John McFall, who lost a leg at the age of 19 and therefore represents the first ever disabled astronaut candidate.
The selected candidates are clearly highly qualified in their fields, and they have proven during the very demanding selection process that they have the “right stuff” to become an astronaut. But before they are “ready-to-fly”, they have to obtain an internationally agreed knowledge level in a wide range of fields, and for that they will undergo the so-called “Astronaut Basic Training”.
University of Stuttgart prepares the future astronauts
The Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart has now been selected to provide an important part of this Basic Training, specifically related to the fundamentals in space engineering. “During this training, the astronaut candidates will receive a first glimpse into space systems, looking at the space environment and its impacts”, explains Prof. Stefanos Fasoulas, Managing Director of the IRS. This includes an introduction to aerodynamics, the subsystems required in a spacecraft, such as power, thermal control or life support. Further, lectures will then deal with flight dynamics, guidance, navigation and control, looking at orbital motion and manoeuvres, attitude determination and control, access to space and re-entry, among other topics.
The team from the University of Stuttgart is composed of experienced researchers and lecturers. Under an assignment from ESA, the team is currently preparing a total number of 20 lectures. The process includes discussions of the content with the ESA Basic Training team and a certification process, both for the lectures and the lecturers. The lectures will be held at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, currently planned towards the end of 2023.
“Teaching astronauts is not new for us at the University of Stuttgart”, says Fasoulas. The IRS provided some of the Aerospace Engineering lectures for Samantha Cristoforetti, Alexander Gerst, Andreas Mogensen, Luca Parmitano, Tim Peake and Thomas Pesquet back in 2009, and for Matthias Maurer in 2015. “We are very proud of being selected by ESA again for the implementation of the basic lectures. Our team from the University of Stuttgart is looking forward to the challenge of contributing to the training of the fledgling European astronaut candidates. And who knows, maybe those will be the first Europeans on the Moon?”, states Fasoulas.
Dr. Gisela Detrell, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Space Systems, phone +49 (0) 711 685-69611, e-mail
Prof. Stefanos Fasoulas, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Space Systems, phone +49 (0) 711 685-62417, e-mail