Pablo Alvarez graduates as an astronaut and will be the third Spaniard to be able to travel into space

Aerospace engineer Pablo Alvarez graduated on Monday from the European Space Agency's (ESA) European Astronaut Center after a year of training at the highest level, making him The third Spanish astronaut to travel on a mission into space After the Spanish-American Miguel Lopez Alegria and Pedro Duque.

“As an ESA astronaut representing Spain, I am honored to join pioneers like Pedro Duque,” ​​Alvarez said on the occasion of the graduation of the Class of 2022, which was attended by the Spanish Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities, Diana Morant. Moments before the ceremony, the Leonians showed him the European Space Agency's facilities in Cologne.

The newly graduated astronaut explained during the ceremony that he remembers exactly when he wanted to become an astronaut.

“I was about 4 or 5 years old 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 have walked on the moon.. “I thought it should be something more common and that was the moment I really wanted to be an astronaut,” he said.

But Alvarez admitted that he gave up on that dream because he stopped believing it was possible while growing up. It was only when he saw the European Space Agency's announcement of a search for new astronauts, he said, that “this dream really started coming back to me. I thought it was a train I had to catch.”

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During the graduation ceremony, a smiling Alvarez placed on his chest the “wings” that identify him as an astronaut with the European Space Agency starting Monday.

The five new professional astronauts They were selected in 2022 out of 22,500 With a reserve of 12 companions, including Spain's Sara Garcia.

In addition to Alvarez, the 2022 class of European Space Agency astronauts consists of Frenchwoman Sophie Adino, British Rosemary Cogan, Belgian Raphael Leguis, and Swiss Marco Alain Sieber. Australian candidate Catherine Pennell Page also completed a year of basic training as an astronaut.

The agency's director general, Joseph Aschbacher, said at the ceremony: “It is a very important day. A very historic moment for you, the astronauts, and for the European Space Agency,” stressing that the European organization now includes 11 astronauts from eight member states, including Spain.

He also pointed out that five astronauts They will have their first opportunity to fly into space in early 2026 at the earliestAccording to the flight plan negotiated with NASA and other partners on the International Space Station (ISS), those selected will have to undergo further training “to be truly ready” to fly to the orbital pad.

“We are now focusing on preparing a mission to the International Space Station, which represents a great challenge,” Alvarez said in a question-and-answer session after the graduation ceremony.

Ashbacher explained that more than 300 people participated in the training of the new astronauts, who were exposed Training consists of theory and many practices.

During their basic training, they delved into basic biology and scientific laboratory techniques, received medical training, honed their technical knowledge through training in spacecraft systems, aerospace engineering, robotics, and life support systems, and took classes in astronomy, astrophysics, and meteorology.

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The most prominent training exercises include spacewalk simulations, in addition to simulating launch and flight conditions in zero gravity, in addition to Russian language lessons in Germany for eight hours a day.

“After two months, Russian was on our minds,” Sophie Adino explained.

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