A shortlist of eight people have been selected from 244 applicants to become the next Hungarian astronaut who will participate in a 30-day mission at the International Space Station in late 2024 or early 2025, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told a ministers’ meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Paris on Tuesday. Hungary’s largest space programme to date has a budget of 100 million dollars, Szijjártó said. The astronaut, to be selected a few weeks before the mission’s launch, will test 12 Hungarian devices and conduct 8 experiments for Hungarian research groups, he said. Szijjártó also signed an agreement with ESA, which will allocate 4 billion forints of support over five years to Hungarian SMEs to help them prepare the technological background for participating in large European projects. In the past decade, some 140 Hungarian-made devices have been shot into space, and all have accomplished their mission, he said. Hungary supports the ESA in strengthening Europe’s role in the world space industry, he said. The “peaceful use of space” boosts companies with large value-added, which have a large role in the present times of crisis, he said. “Access to space is also a matter of sovereignty,” he said.