Part of the Diversity and Gender Equality Project Group (also known as Our Giant Leap) team members will be attending and presenting at the International Astronautical Congress, which will take place in Paris (France) from 18 to 22 September 2022.

Feel free to join our paper presentations:


Lessons learned and perspectives to open up the space sector to children by means of hands-on activities developed by students and young professionals” presented by Sapna Rao (co-writted with Clara Moriceau, Mangai Prabakar, Claudia Guerra & Salvi Verma) on September 18th 2022 at 16:15 on Room E08B.

Diversity and inclusion are essential to ensure everyone is equally heard and represented in all working areas of society. In addition, companies who actively spearhead diversity and inclusion strategies are more likely to achieve above-average returns. However, diversity is still a thorny issue in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) fields, including aerospace.

The Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), a non-governmental and non-profit organization, holding a large network of students and young professionals interested in the space sector, has recently created a Project Group dedicated to diversity and gender equality. One of its activities, the PADAWANS project, aims at introducing to young children, from all walks of life, a multitude of professions and profiles in the space sector by inviting them to share hands-on experiences in their classrooms. Thanks to the pool of professionals invited in their classrooms, children are able to project both their current interests and themselves onto the space sector. In addition, the team brings a novel approach in comparison to similar projects. Relying on the fact that parents play a key role in the education of their children, both children and their parents are involved in the events organized at schools. Moreover, this project benefits from SGAC’s large network which includes thousands of students and young professionals all across the world. Therefore, the team aims at encouraging the younger generation to speak up and share their experience in primary schools.

The PADAWANS team has decided to target its focus on primary schools first before moving to higher education. Established in late 2020, the group has already held one event in a primary school in France, despite the COVID-19 situation, and developed educational materials in French and English. In early 2022, the team recruited new members to work on three different topics: supporting the organization of outreach events in schools, creating and providing educational resources in many languages, to be used in schools, promoting diversity in the space sector and communicating about its activities with external partners and collaborators.

This paper presents the implementation of the project and the first activities that were performed since 2020, providing a set of lessons learned and drives for future plans. Such activities will include hosting events in several geographical regions of the world in 2022, adapting its content, establishing a global collaboration platform for outreach volunteers and assisting in the translation and distribution of existing and new educational materials.


Astronauts with disabilities: a dream becoming reality for a bigger part of humanity” presented by Tania Gres (and co-writted with Erin Richardson, Megha Choudhary, Helen Haile & Heylen Andrea Polo Cano) on September 19th 2022 at 16:10 on Room S03.

Since 1961 with Yuri Gagarin’s first flight, humanity has seen around 600 astronauts leaving the Earth for orbital adventures of short or long duration. While at the time it was considered as the most dangerous and inaccessible place, today it is the playground of more and more private and public agencies. This is well illustrated by the recent growing space tourism activity, and the new opportunities it opens thanks to the more frequent flights and the financial difference of a crewed launch compared to a few years in the past. Diversity has increased a lot recently, in terms of gender, culture, age, nationalities and even disabilities. This later is the aspect this study is focusing on.

After ESA’s parastronaut feasibility project and Inspiration 4 crew launch with SpaceX, a brand new image of astronauts was born, allowing a wider part of humanity to participate to the Space adventure too. But how, after 60 years of human spaceflights, do scientists and engineers make it possible to launch people with disabilities in space? What are the necessary adaptations? What are the ”acceptable” disabilities for a safe mission? How does society impact that revolution and also what will this giant leap have on society itself?

This research project was made in the frame of the DIVersity IN Astronaut Selection (DIVINAS) project which is part of the Diversity and Gender Equality Project Group from the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). The team, composed of 4 space enthusiasts from different backgrounds, wanted to discover more about the possibility of sending people with disabilities to space, which might sound out of this world at first glance. After 8 months of research, and thanks to the insights of subject matter experts from private and public space agencies, this paper aims to explain in more detail the topic of astronauts with disabilities. Through the comments and feedback of parastronaut candidates, this study will highlight the challenges the industries, agencies and any other institution involved in this ambitious project must face to improve diversity in human space flights. It will show how important and necessary it is in today’s society to work on the inclusion of people with disabilities, and why making the astronaut dream possible for everyone is a game changer in the era we are living in.


Astronaut profile evolution through time and space: study of the past, current and future requirements” presented by Tania Gres (co-writted with Erin Richardson, Megha Choudhary, Saira O. Williams, Luísa Santos & Marie Lambert) on September 22th 2022 at 15:05 on Room W07.

Since 60 years ago when the first person was sent in space, humanity has seen around 600 astronauts leaving the Earth for orbital adventures of short or long duration. Nowadays, this dangerous and harsh environment attracts more and more people. It is well illustrated by the recent growing space tourism activity, and their new astronauts, that don’t need to go through the classical recruitment and training as it was done for the past missions. We could categorize astronauts into 3 categories: the public and private astronauts whose profile evolved a lot through the years, and tourists astronauts which appeared very recently. When recruiting public astronauts today, they must have a completely new set of skills like interaction with robots, experience with new tools and technologies, and even being good public speakers. Private ones also must comply with standards imposed by national agencies and thus their recruitment could be a bit similar, which differs from tourist astronauts that are not expected to have these specific skills.

In the frame of the DIVersity IN Astronaut Selection (DIVINAS) project which is part of the Diversity and Gender Equality Project Group from the Space Generation Advisory Council, a few members decided to take on the challenge of analyzing astronauts’ profile through the years and compare these data with recent crews. This paper aims to observe the evolution of the key parameters and capacities required through the years since the first human in space, in 1961. During the past 60 years, humanity went through different phases like the cold war with the space race, sustainability and collaboration in space with the space stations, as well as the return to the Moon and preparation of future long trips to Mars. Some criteria of selection like the number of years of experience, the background of the applicants or the physical skills they have will be studied, as well as the skills a “great astronaut” should have. This paper will also compare the recent recruitments, both in private and public agencies, as well as the new project of inclusivity like the parastronauts project of the European Space Agency. Thanks to the insights of recruiters in private and public agencies, as well as the data found online about past and current astronauts, this study will focus on highlighting the astronaut profile of tomorrow, and the future needs and skillset researched during recruitments, for the future of human spaceflights.