Polish scientist Dr. Sławosz Uznański was selected as one of 11 European Space Agency (ESA) reserve astronauts and is now part of the Astronaut Corps presented by ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher in Paris on Wednesday.
The ESA will send contracts to six active astronauts, including one with a disability, and 11 in the reserve. The first group is almost guaranteed to go to the International Space Station (ISS), possibly even on some of NASA’s moon missions realized with the participation of ESA.
Reserve astronauts can join them at any moment and commence their intensive training, particularly if the ESA widens its manned programs with the use of ISS, reports the Polish Space Agency.
Dr. Uznański beat over 22,000 candidates from across Europe in an elimination program that lasted over a year and a half. Candidates went through various tests on their knowledge of space and space technologies. They were tested for their intelligence and timed problem-solving abilities as well, with the last test evaluating their mental resilience and ability to remain calm under stress. They also received detailed medical tests and underwent multiple interviews.
Uznański’s experience from working at CERN in Geneva as an operator of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) gave him an advantage, as the LHC is a device that is on par with the ISS in terms of complexity and technological sophistication.
Dr. Uznański also specializes in developing electronic devices resistant to radiation, which are used in space. He did his doctorate in electronics and the ability to conduct scientific research. His hobby, hiking in the Himalayas, is the best way to train for resilience to stress and harsh conditions.
“This surely is one of the most important days of my life, but also a special moment for Polish science and Poland’s participation in space exploration; it is an appreciation of our accomplishments and highlights our potential,” said Uznański.
“As a Pole, I am proud to represent our country in accomplishing a joint European space program. Our participation is important. I am certain that it will increase significantly,” he added.