The astronauts will be part of the sixty-strong first ESA selection. Members of the European astronaut corps will have the chance of flying the American Space Shuttle's European-built Spacelab, the Soviet Mir space station or the European Hermes spaceplane.
The astronauts selected are:
Dr Ciaran Bolger, 28, a surgeon;
William Butler, 35, an Aer Lingus F-50 pilot;
Kevin Barry, 31, a military pilot in the Irish Air Corps; and
Dr-Deirdre McMahon, 30, an anaesthetist.
Ireland's ESA astronauts: Dr Ciaran Bolger and Dr Deidre McMahon (upper); Kevin Barry and William Butler (lower).
|Completed applications received  |
Called to preliminary screening
Called to in-tiepth screening
Called to in-depth examination
The astronaut applicants faced a seven-strong selection team drawn from the Irish Air Corps and the medical profession. Preliminary screening involved aptitude, personality and preliminary medical tests. The next screening consisted of psychometric and psychomotor tests, psychological examination and interview. The in-depth examination included a psychiatric assessment. Table 2 lists the main categories of applicants:
The four selected now go on to training at the European astronaut centre. At the end of this year an initial group of ten astronauts will be selected for the earliest flight opportunities available. The ESA astronaut corps is expected to number around forty by the time Hermes makes its debut in 1999.
The only woman in the Irish squad, Deirdre McMahon, was born in Belfast. A mother offour, she went to Baghdad to do a four week medical locum last August and arrived just in time for the Iraqi attack on Kuwait! She was there for two months before she managed to get out. Kevin Barry, a pilot in the Irish Air Corps, flies in the Corps' aerobatic squadron of Italian-made jet fighters.