ESA is recruiting world's next astronauts

The sky isn't the limit for aspiring astronauts after the European Space Agency (ESA) announced its latest recruitment drive.

For the first time in over a decade, the ESA is calling for applicants for its next generation of astronauts.

It is strongly encouraging women to apply and is looking into how it might add people with disabilities to its roster to boost diversity among crews.

Those interested have a two-month window, from late March to late May, to apply. To be qualified, applicants should have a master's degree in the sciences or mathematics field.

ESA chief Jan Worner.

“We have astronauts from the last selection, and they are still active astronauts, and I would like to see them again going into orbit, going into space. But at the same time, we need also new astronauts to secure a continuity."

The selection process will involve six stages that will test candidates' scientific and technical know-how, physical capabilities and ability to stay cool under pressure.

British astronaut Tim Peake.

"When you look at what we're doing with human space flight, it is quite remarkable. We are pushing the boundaries, we're asking more of our engineering, of our scientists, of our astronauts and everybody. And so, to be part of this international team that can actually make a real difference is a huge privilege, a real privilege”

The agency's last recruitment drive in 2008 drew 8,000 applicants, of which 10 reached the final selection.

This time around the ESA is looking to add up to 26 permanent and reserve astronauts.