Former Durham University student set to become the UK’s third astronaut to travel to space

Dr Rosemary Coogan is now eligible for space flight after graduating from the European Space Agency


A Durham University alumna is on track to become the UK’s third astronaut after graduating from space training.

Doctor Rosemary Coogan, originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland, has two masters degrees in physics from Durham University from which she graduated in 2013. Coogan also achieved an astronomy doctorate from the University of Sussex.

She has now been selected to go to space after completing the European Space Agency’s rigorous training programme, ChronicleLive reports.

Beating more than 22,500 applicants, Rosemary was accepted onto the training programme, BACK IN 2022, with her cohort being the first new recruits to the ESA in 13 years.

The Durham alumna completed a year of basic training at the European astronaut centre in Cologne, Germany. During this time, future astronauts are introduced to the fundamentals of spaceflight, gain a detailed overview of all Space Station systems, complete survival training, practice how to conduct a spacewalk and start learning special skills like Russian language and robotic operations.

Dr Rosemary Coogan – image via YouTube

Rosemary graduated from basic training on 22nd April 2024 which means she is now eligible for space flight and will become the UK’s third astronaut, following in the footsteps of Helen Sharman who in 1989 was the first Briton in space, and Tim Peake who travelled to the International Space Station in 2015.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the 33 year old said she was “always fascinated in space” and it had been a “long-standing dream” to become an astronaut.

Until she is assigned her first mission, Coogan will move on to the next phase of pre-assignment training, and will undertake operational tasks in the European Space Agency.

The UK Space Agency’s head of space exploration, Libby Jackson, says it is “absolutely fantastic to see British astronauts a part of the European Space Agency programme”.

Robert Hill from NI Space believes this is a “truly momentous occasion for the space sector in Northern Ireland”, adding he is “looking forward to following Rosemary’s journey and will be cheering her on during her first mission”.

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Featured image via YouTube