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While chatting with a friend of mine I we started discussing our childhood aspirations. I mentioned to him that I remember wearing an old ski helmet and a coat hanger as a headset, flying my bunkbed to the Moon, and that from that point, my lifelong dream had always been to be an astronaut. Immediately he showed me the OeWF website and that applications were open to join their class of 2019 of Analog Astronauts. I applied straight away.
After some initial filtering of the applications I was lucky enough to be one of only 30 candidates selected for the first round of tests and interviews in Innsbruck, Austria. It seemed like the first part of the test was to get to there, as city is not easy to find convenient flights between the UK and Innsbruck!
A few of us started to meet up in the evening before testing was to start, and despite the details we had been given by the OeWF we started to speculate over what it might be like, with more and more elaborate ideas, making us ever so slightly nervous…
We started early(ish) on the Saturday morning. Each person I met was more impressive than the last. You know you are among some truly talented people when you hear the words „I only have two Masters degrees…“and „While I was in Antarctica..“ floating across the room.
What you quickly come to realise, though, through the conversations and getting to know this extraordinary group of people, is that each of them has a unique set of skills and experiences and education, but that they compliment each other in a way that would create a really strong and capable team. Rather than feeling in direct competition with everyone else, we quickly developed a camaraderie that genuinely wanted the best for everyone. If only the OeWF had 30 places.
I think everyone left the weekends activities feeling as though they had done their best, and that whomever was chosen, they would genuinely be the best candidates to go forward to the last round.
I was one of the fortunate candidates selected to continue into the C selection. Again, the first ‘test’ was finding flights that would match the testing period, especially as it gets closer to main skiing season!
If I felt in awe of the original 30, the final 15 were obviously going to be even more impressive. Imposter syndrome kicks-in and you find yourself thinking, perhaps, that everyone else has managed to achieve more than you. But what you realise is that its not more or less impressive (except for a few of them ;) ), but what strikes you is the amazing diversity of experiences and talents represented in such a small group – from Doctors to Chemists, to Physicists and Biologists. Each of us is (potentially) part of the puzzle to creating the perfect Analog Astronaut team.
We are only halfway into the tests now, but I wish all of the amazing people I have met throughout this adventure the very best of luck…
Author: Jonathan Toomey, Analog astronaut candidate
- 23.05.2019 - 01.09.2019: Exhibition: Austria in Space – a country takes off!
- 26.09.2019 - 27.09.2019: Deutsche Astrobiologie Gesellschaft - 4th annual workshop
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