Pablo Álvarez becomes the first Spanish astronaut in more than three decades

Pablo Alvarez He graduated today as an astronaut from the European Space AgencyESA for its acronym in English, in a ceremony that took place at the Astronaut Preparation Center that ESA has in Cologne, Germany. The 35-year-old from Leon thus becomes the third Spanish astronaut after the Hispanic-American Miguel López Alegría and Pedro Dukeand the first in 31 years since the former Minister of Science and Innovation did so in 1993.

“As an ESA astronaut representing Spain, It is an honor to join pioneers like Pedro Duque“, Álvarez said during the graduation, according to the Efe Agency, which was attended by the current Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities, Diana Morant. Álvarez has graduated as an astronaut alongside the Frenchwoman Sophie Adenotthe British Rosemary Cooganthe Belgian Raphaël Liégeois and the swiss Marco Alain Sieber.

“It is a historic day for all of us,” he said. Joseph Aschbacher, director general of the European Space Agency. “With this new class, the number of European astronauts reaches 11who come from eight European countries, which emphasizes our international essence.”

Álvarez and his companions belong to the promotion of 2022the first since 2009, for which he was selected in that year among more than 22,500 candidates. Along with the five astronauts already, the ESA selected another 12 reserve astronauts, among which is also the Leonese Sara Garcia.

The man from Leon recalled when he wanted to become an astronaut at the ceremony. “I had some 4 or 5 years and I was looking at the moon in the mountains of my small town in Spain and someone told me that there had been people who had walked on the moon. I was disappointed that only 12 people walked on the moon.. I thought it had to be something more common and that was the moment I really wanted to become an astronaut,” she explained. As he became an adult, he abandoned the idea. But after graduating in aeronautical engineering from the University of León and obtaining a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the Warsaw University of Technology, the announcement by ESA looking for a new generation of astronauts made him take it up again: “that dream really started to come back to me. I thought it was a train I had to catch”.

Aschbacher has indicated that the first opportunity to fly into space will come at the earliest in 2026, at the beginning, according to the flight plan negotiated with NASA and other partners of the International Space station. The new astronauts must now undergo new training to be able to fly to the International Space Station. “Now we are focused on preparing a mission to the ISS, which is quite a big challenge,” said Álvarez.