The European Space Agency announced its new team of astronauts at the Grand Palais Éphémère in Paris on Wednesday – and among them is Czech fighter pilot Aleš Svoboda.
Svoboda was the only successful candidate out of some 200 Czechs who had applied for the project.
“For me, it was always a child’s dream,” Svoboda told Czech Television. “As a child, I used to go to the planetarium in Brno, always taking interest in space, aviation and space flights. For me, it is a logical continuation of what I do now.”
The main team of the selected astronauts consists of two women and three men. Another 11 are in the reserve team. The training will start next year.
Aleš earned a bachelor’s (in 2008) and a master’s (in 2011) degree from the University of Defence in Brno, where his studies focused on military technology. In 2010, he completed a master’s degree in the field of transport engineering from the University of Pardubice.
In 2013, Aleš enrolled with the Air University of the United States Air Force in Alabama, USA, where he graduated from the International and Squadron Officer Schools.
In 2011 Aleš started his doctorate with the Faculty of Military Technology at the University of Defence in Brno, where his research was in aircraft and rocket technology. He earned his PhD in 2017 with the topic of his thesis being “The effect of unsteady flow on aerodynamic characteristics of an airfoil”.
Aleš started basic training as a recruit with the Czech Armed Forces in 2005. He then became a pilot with the Czech Air Force in Pardubice and Náměšť nad Oslavou, Czech Republic, in 2008. He also completed parachute and survival training.
During his doctorate, Aleš completed an internship at the headquarters of the Czech Air Force in Prague and started working as a senior pilot with the Czech Air Force. He furthermore received specialised pilot training with the F7 Swedish Air Force wing in Såtenäs, Sweden, in 2016.
Between 2016 and 2019, Aleš served as a senior pilot securing NATO airspace with the 211th Tactical Squadron in Čáslav, and was deployed within NATO’s Air Policing presence at Ämari Air Base, Estonia.
He was promoted to a lead senior pilot at the 211th Tactical Squadron in Čáslav and worked as such from 2019 to 2021, where he served as a NATO air defence Quick Reaction Alert commander and electronic warfare officer. During this time, he earned several medals for his service.
From 2021, Aleš worked as a senior weapons and tactics officer with the 211th Tactical Squadron.
Aleš holds a commercial pilot and a glider pilot license and has logged over 1500 flight hours.