SCOTS are being urged to apply to become the next Tim Peake as applications for new astronauts open next month.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is recruiting for space explorers for the first time since 2008.

Disabled people are also encouraged to apply, and could become the first parastronaut in history to take part in space flight.

The ESA announced today that they are piloting a project aiming to open the astronaut career path to people with physical disabilities who have been excluded until now. 

Those with a lower limb deficiency or who are considered to be of short stature and meet other recruitment criteria are invited to apply, with the ESA committed to  nvesting in adapted technology to ensure these members can partake in safe space flight as part of the crew.

HeraldScotland:

British astronaut Tim Peake said: "Over the next few years and decades, space exploration will become even more exciting as we travel back to the Moon and even further to Mars. For space missions to succeed, they require highly motivated people from diverse backgrounds to combine their skills and work as a team.

"The next generation of UK citizens have so much to offer the world, and so I would encourage anyone who has dreamt of pushing the boundaries of what is possible to take this opportunity to be part of ESA’s future cohort of space pioneers."

Scotland is already fast becoming a hub for space science, with several sites earmarked to become potential space ports in the coming years.

READ MORE: Satellite images from Nasa capture Scotland in the snow from space

Now the UK Government's Scotland Office is hoping that a Scot could also join the crew taking part in the next series of space missions by securing a spot on the astronaut team. 

Citizens from the UK and Ireland are invited to apply, and can be any age and from any walk of life.

They must have at least a Masters level degree and at least three years experience in natural sciences, medicine, engineering, mathematics or computer sciences. 

Applicants must have fluent English, but experience of the space sector is not essential. 

READ MORE: Boost for Scotland as spaceport ambitions take off

The recruitment scheme opens on March 31 on the ESA website, and will close two months later. Applicants will face a 17 month recruitment process of screening, psychological, practical, and psychometric testing, medical selections and two interview selections until the final applicants will be appointed and announced in October 2022.

Those successful will then have intensive training including a three week course in caving, and lessons in practical geology, before taking their first flighs to the International Space Station. 

HeraldScotland: OUT AND ABOUT: Astronaut Mike Fossum during a spacewalk as part of a mission to the International Space Station. Reflected in his visor are various components of the station, Earth’s horizon and astronaut Ron Garan

They are likely to be part of the crew on the next missions to the moon in the late 2020s and through the 2030s.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to realise your dreams of space travel as an astronaut on missions to the International Space Station and potentially the Moon.

“I encourage those who are interested to look at the criteria, noting that there is a special call for candidates with physical disabilities to apply. It would be fantastic to have a Scot represented on the team.

“The boundaries of science and technology are reaching new frontiers - this is just the beginning of a new era for space exploration."