The “Zero-G Portugal - Astronaut for a day” contest is aimed at students who in the next school year will attend between the 9th and 11th grades, aged between 14 and 18, in public, private, or home schooling.

The selected students will be able to participate in a parabolic flight, in September, aboard a Novespace Airbus, in which they can experience the sensations experienced by astronauts in space.

These flights, explains the director of the agency quoted in a statement, were created to understand how the human body could adapt to zero gravity conditions, but are currently considered fundamental for research in microgravity and to test some experiments before sending them to the international space station.

Future astronauts

“They are also one of the ways used to train future astronauts and this is the experience we want to give Portuguese students”, adds Hugo Costa.

The official explains that the objective of the initiative is to bring young people closer to space and to motivate students for a training and career not only in this area, but in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics related to the space sector.

“By bringing young people closer to space, we want to contribute to their decision about the future, for example, following a path in these areas of study and, who knows, awakening the vocation of future astronauts”, emphasises Hugo Costa.

Applications run until April 17, followed by a second phase with space perception and interpretation tests. In the third phase, there are physical tests and then an interview.

According to the agency's educational projects manager, Marta Gonçalves, the selection process was designed to reach all students in the country, on the one hand, and to “reflect, in part, the selection of astronauts, taking into account attention to several components”.

The finalists will also be ambassadors of the initiative at the school during the next school year, to share their experience with colleagues, “contributing to cultivate and stimulate interest in space”, says the statement.