464 Austrians want to become ESA astronauts
ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher, who hails from Austria, spoke in Paris of tough competition: "It's a dream job to be an astronaut." The selection process has six stages - the new space crew will not be decided until the end of next year. The search is for four to six permanent spacewalkers, plus a "reserve" of up to 20 people.
The proportion of female applicants has risen to around 24 percent, compared with just over 15 percent a decade ago. From Germany, 3,700 applicants are vying for one of the coveted places, and from Switzerland there are 670 candidates.
Applicants must have at least a master's degree in science, engineering, mathematics or computer science. There are height requirements, and the age limit is 50. More than 200 people applied for the new position for an astronaut with a physical disability. Two Austrians are competing in this category.