Roscosmos space agency is looking for six to eight cosmonauts who will operate a new-generation spaceship headed to the moon in 2031

Russias space agency has announced a recruitment drive for young would-be cosmonauts who it hopes will become the countrys first on the Moon.

In the first such drive for five years, Roscosmos has said it is looking for six to eight cosmonauts who will operate a new-generation spaceship now in development and will become the first Russians to fly to the Moon.

Russia step up our efforts to rekindle the space triumph of the Soviet era and has announced plans for its first manned Moon landing by 2031.

There will be no discrimination based on skin colour or gender, the executive director of manned programmes, Sergei Krikalyov, said at a press conference held, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency.

Applications would be welcome for the next four months, said the first deputy director of Roscosmos, Alexander Ivanov, cited by RIA Novosti.

Ivanov said the new recruits would pilot the first launchings of the new-generation Federatsiya manned transport ship and continue the lunar programme.

The Federatsiya is designed to fly to the Moon with four people on board. The first manned exam launch is planned in 2023 from Russias new Vostochny cosmodrome in the countrys far east.

The criteria for applicants include an age limit of 35, height between 1m 50 cm and 1m 90 cm( 4ft, 11 in to 6ft, 2in) and weight of no more than 90 kg( 14 st, 2lb ), according to Roscosmos.

IT skills and knowledge of a foreign language are required as well as an engineering degree or pilot educate or experience in the aviation or space industries.

A high standard of fitness is a must and would-be astronauts have to cross-country ski for 5km. They undergo a barrage of psychological and physical exams including gynaecological tests for women.

Applicants can apply by post or in person to Star City astronaut developing centres outside Moscow, recollecting to enclose three passport-sized photographs.

Russia currently has 30 cosmonauts, 14 of whom have not yet been in space. The oldest is 58-year-old Gennady Padalka, who holds the world record for total time spent in space, while the youngest is 31-year-old Ivan Vagner, according to TASS state news agency.

The first such open recruitment drive not just for military pilots and those working in the space industry was held in 2012.

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