Born in Northern Ireland, Rosemary Coogan said that graduating from the ESA and being one step closer to spaceflight is an ‘incredibly moving’ moment for her.

Rosemary Coogan has become the latest person from the island of Ireland to become an astronaut after graduating from the European Space Agency class of 2022.

Coogan, who was born in Northern Ireland, is now eligible for spaceflight after a year of rigorous training, as are her colleagues Sophie Adenot, Pablo Álvarez Fernández, Raphaël Liégeois and Marco Sieber.

Katherine Bennell-Pegg from the Australian Space Agency also graduated with the cohort at the ESA European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

“Today is a significant milestone as we celebrate the graduation of a new class of five ESA astronauts, who are now qualified to be assigned to future spaceflights,” said ESA director-general Josef Aschbacher.

“I am also proud to witness the graduation of an Australian astronaut candidate, which reaffirms our dedication to advancing international cooperation in space exploration. The addition of fresh talent and diverse perspectives and expertise enhances our ability to navigate the complexities of space exploration and solidifies ESA’s role as a pioneering force in shaping our future in space.”

‘One step closer’ to spaceflight

Coogan was one of 17 astronaut candidates – almost half of whom were women – selected by the ESA in late 2022 to join the agency’s next generation of astronauts as it expands its human spaceflight missions.
She and her colleagues then went on to complete comprehensive training across a range of skill areas, including spacecraft systems, spacewalking, flight engineering, robotics and life support systems, as well as survival and medical training.

Now, the ESA said its latest batch of astronauts will move on to the next phases of pre-assignment and mission-specific training, paving the way for future missions to the International Space Station and beyond.
“Graduating from astronaut basic training is an incredibly moving moment for me. From dreaming about space to now being one step closer to reaching it, I’m filled with gratitude and determination to make the most of this extraordinary opportunity,” said Coogan.

After completing her undergraduate degree in physics, Coogan went on to complete two master’s degrees from the University of Durham in the UK. In 2019, Coogan obtained a PhD in astronomy from the University of Sussex.

“I’m proud to share this moment with my fellow astronaut graduates and of the commitment of our international team to exploration,” she added. “Together, we stand ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, united by our shared passion for space.”

Vish Gain
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