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Irish scientist, new European astronauts


Northern Irish-born scientist Rosemary Coogan has been selected as an astronaut by the European Space Agency (ESA). 

The ESA has announced its new class of career astronauts, including three men and two women, picking five candidates from a list of 22,500 applicants.

Coogan holds two Masters degrees from the University of Durham in Physics and Astronomy, while she also completed a doctorate in astronomy at the University of Sussex in 2019. 

She has been chosen alongside France’s Sophie Adenot, Spain’s Pablo Alvarez Fernandez, Belgium’s Raphael Liegeois, and Switzerland’s Marco Sieber to be the ESA’s next career astronauts. 

Coogan was unveiled as a career astronaut at an ESA event in Paris on Thursday, November 23. 

“This ESA astronaut class is bringing ambition, talent, and diversity in many different forms – to drive our endeavors, and our future,” ESA director general Josef Aschbacher said on Thursday. 

Aschbacher said future ESA programs will include the “continuous exploration in low orbit on the International Space Station” in addition to projects that go to “the moon and beyond”. 

The ESA also announced the first astronaut recruit with a disability during Thursday’s ministerial council in Paris, with Britain’s John McFall joining the ESA’s separate “parastronaut” program. 

McFall, whose leg was amputated following a motorcycle accident when he was 18, will work with ESA engineers to understand what hardware changes are required to make spaceflight more accessible to a wider group of candidates. 

The ESA previously announced a class of career astronauts in 2009, with Italy’s Samantha Cristoforetti selected as the only female astronaut of the six successful candidates. 

Britain’s Timothy Peake and France’s Thomas Pesquet were among the successful candidates in 2009. 





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