Czech fighter pilot selected for one of ESA’s new astronaut teams

ESA’s new team of 17 astronauts consists of 5 core members, 3 men, 2 women and 12 reserves. Ales Svoboda is a member of the reserve team and getting there was no easy task. He was selected from about 22,600 candidates eager for the opportunity to see Earth from a distance. About 200 of the tens of thousands of applicants were Czech, but he was the only Czech to join the team. Svoboda explains how he feels about being selected from the selection process.

Aleš Svoboda, ESA Cosmonaut Class 2022 | Photo: ESA

“I was very honored and very happy. On the other hand, I was also very humbled as I have not done anything other than the selection itself. There is a lot of work ahead.”

Svoboda is a Czech Air Force fighter pilot who has flown high performance aircraft, primarily Gripen fighters, since 2008, logging around 1500 flight hours in the process. He studied Military Technology at the Defense Academy in Brno, Transport Engineering at the University of Pardubice, and holds a PhD in Aircraft and Rocket Technology. The Brno native says he has been interested in space since he was a child.

“I have been fascinated by space since I was a little girl. Basically, I see it as my lifelong ambition to become an astronaut and the logical continuation of my career as a fighter pilot. increase.”

The astronauts will begin their 12-month basic training at ESA’s European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany in spring 2023. Reserve team members will continue their current jobs, but will be available as replacements in the event of departure. someone on the core team. Svoboda details what excites him most about ESA’s space program.

“I am always excited about Europe’s vision of potentially establishing a presence around and on the Moon, beyond low Earth orbit, and being heavily involved in the Gateway and Artemis programs.”

Some say it’s pretty unlikely he’ll actually go to space, but it’s still possible.

In the late 1970s, the former Czechoslovakia became the third country in the world to have one of its citizens in space. Military pilot Vladimir Lemek was aboard the Soyuz 28 spacecraft in March 1978, the first cosmonaut to come from a country other than the Soviet Union or the United States. Lemech was the first and only Czechoslovak cosmonaut to ever see space. If Svoboda gets the chance, he could go down in history as the second Czech cosmonaut in history. Czech fighter pilot selected for one of ESA’s new astronaut teams

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