Roscosmos Extends Call for Cosmonauts as Few Apply

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By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Roscosmos has decided to extend its first open competition for new cosmonauts to April 30 after only 151 candidates applied, the space agency’s press service reports. The deadline for applications was originally March 15.

The result is a marked contrast to NASA’s recent astronaut application process, which was completed in late January. The space agency received 6,372 applications, the second highest in history and about double the normal number for recruitment.

The decision to extend the Roscosmos recruitment drive was reached during a meeting on Thursday of the Interagency Commission (IAC) that is overseeing the selection process. Chairman of the Bid Evaluation Committee O. Kotova noted a recent surge in applications as the deadline approached.

“Practice shows that it takes a considerable amount of time for applicants to collect the required documents, to meet certain terms and conditions of the competition. We assume that the number of people willing to devote himself to space activities has increased,” Kotova said.

This is the first open cosmonaut selection competition in the history of the Soviet and Russian space programs. It was announced in January.

The Roscosmos Competition Commission has been evaluating applications as they come in. The commission includes representatives the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, RSC Energia, the Institute for Biomedical Problems, and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The Competition Commission has already selected eight applicants for further evaluation, with four of them  being testing for physical fitness and physical training, according to Roscosmos.