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It’s 06:00am. It’s -8 degrees Celsius. I’m stood outside an unassuming building in a suburb of Innsbruck, Austria, wearing only shorts and t-shirt, waiting to begin a run through the darkness with 16 of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. This is Analog Astronaut selection.
Two months earlier, I was sat in front of my laptop in the library of Harris Manchester College, Oxford, UK when I read a call for applications to join the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) Analog Astronaut class of 2019. I was aware of OeWF through my MSc programme from two years prior. However, I’d never considered I could be an Analog Astronaut. Thoughts raced through my mind of me strolling through a barren landscape, in some remote location, wearing their renowned Aouda.X Spacesuit as if I was on Mars. The next week became all about constructing the perfect application, then painfully pausing to ensure I meet the minimum age requirement of 25 before I submit it. Several weeks later a response arrives.
“Congratulations” it says. I have become one of the fortunate 30 candidates to proceed to the next round of selection. I am both elated and nervous. Two weeks later, I am awaking at 03:30am to catch an early Friday morning flight to Innsbruck to begin the selection process. I meet my fellow candidates in a local restaurant and imposter syndrome firmly settles in within minutes. These are both the coolest and most impressive people I have ever met in my lifetime, many of them undertaking activities that will no doubt change the future of human spaceflight in years to come. Oxford University admission interviews couldn’t hold a candle to the feeling of being out of ones depth. The ensuing weekend would include basic fitness tests, administrative interviews, psychological evaluations, a hand-eye coordination test, and a medical examination. As I flew home on the final day of selection, invigorated and motivated from a weekend of inspirational colleagues, I felt that if I were not to progress anymore, then I’d happily miss out against such an impressive cohort.
3 days later, 03:00pm passes by and no e-mail yet. 04:00pm. 05:00pm. My nerves grow. 06:00pm, my phones vibrates. The title “C-Selection Invitation”. I made it!!! I was down to the final 15 candidates and I couldn’t believe it. Fast forward to standing in the cold in my shorts and t-shirt, and I am glad to greet my fellow candidates as if they were old friends. The rigor of the selection process increases, the standards even higher, and less stones are unturned as every aspect of our abilities is investigated in even more depth. The fitness tests are more in depth, the medical tests more invasive, the technical tasks more complex and demanding. The competition more fierce.
As I write these final lines my selection is complete. Unaware of how I have scored, I am both excited and scared. Two weeks are now all that stands between me and my result. I can only hope with every aspect of my being that I am selected to join the class of 6 Analog Astronauts, plus the 2 non-European candidates that will be joining us. Dreams of becoming a Mars pioneer cling to my every thought. The barren landscape calls me.
Author: Adam James Crellin
- 28.05.2019 - 30.05.2019: General Assembly European Astrobiology Institute
- 28.06.2019 - 30.06.2019: 4. OeWF Analog Mission Basic Training (AMBT)
- 16.07.2019 - 25.07.2019: Summer School Alpbach 2019
- 26.09.2019 - 27.09.2019: Deutsche Astrobiologie Gesellschaft - 4th annual workshop
- 04.11.2019 - 06.11.2019: European Mars Conference
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