The quest for the country’s first space traveller begins today with applications invited from budding star trekkers to become astronauts with the European Space Agency (ESA).
Ireland is a member of the ESA which last month announced vacancies for its manned space programme.
Europe’s top astronaut Gerhard Thiele was in Dublin last week to promote the recruitment drive, which begins across the Continent today.
The ideal candidate should be competent in science and able to demonstrate an aptitude for research.
The first stage in the gruelling selection process is screening, where applicants will have to provide the same medical examination certificate as private pilots.
The examination must be conducted by an Aviation Medical Examiner certified by his/her national aviation medical authority.
Then there will be aptitude tests, another medical test and a final interview before the successful candidates are announced next year.
They will then join the European Astronaut Corps and begin basic training at the European Astronaut Centre (ESA-EAC) in Cologne, Germany.
Candidates from all 17 member states – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom – are welcome to apply.
Further information can be found by logging on to www.esa.int.