NASA reveals what it takes to become an astronaut

Here's how you can achieve your childhood dreams and become an astronaut.
  • Apparently, NASA tends to accept applications for new classes of astronauts every four years
  • If you want to work for NASA specifically, though, you have to be a US citizen
  • What’s more, you’ll have to already be ‘a successful professional’

Published on Dec 29, 2023 at 8:59PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Jan 2, 2024 at 1:14PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Adam Gray
NASA reveals what it takes to become an astronaut

When you were a kid, what was it that you wanted to be when you grew up?

A doctor? Maybe a vet? Perhaps even an astronaut?

To be fair, it’s not an easy road making it as a space traveler, but it’s probably more in your control than you think – that’s if you really put your mind to it.

READ MORE! NASA’s car-sized rover makes startling discovery on Mars

Been reading up on how the ISS crew celebrated Christmas or Tim Peake opening up about the secrets every astronaut keeps?

NASA’s given a few pointers if you have your sights set beyond Earth.

For starters, NASA tends to accept applications for new classes of astronauts every four years, according to NASA astronaut Anne McClain.

Plenty of time to prepare then.

But, if you want to work for NASA specifically, you have to be a US citizen, and already be ‘a successful professional’.

Regarding the latter, you’ll need to have ‘at least two years of related professional experience’, or ‘at least 1,000 pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft’.

Then, you’re going to need to be ‘able to pass the NASA long-duration flight astronaut physical’, as well as likely have a Master’s degree in a STEM field.

If you don’t have a Master’s degree, you’ll need to have ‘two years of work toward a doctoral program in related science, technology, engineering or math field’, have completed a Doctor degree, or a nationally-recognized test pilot school program.

It’s not just what you do solo, but working in a team which counts, NASA astronaut selection manager April Jones told IFL Science.

“You’re training for your missions as a team, and that’s your team in space and your team on the ground that you’re communicating with,” Jordan said.

“Team skills is something that is really high on the list for top competencies that we’re looking for.”

Even if you possess the aforementioned, astronaut McLain warned it’s still ‘really hard to get selected as an astronaut’.

“The 2013 class had more than 6,000 applicants and eight were selected. In 2017, more than 18,300 people applied, and 11 new astronauts just graduated from that class. The odds are in no one’s favor!” she said.

“You need to apply. And if you are not selected, apply again (and again, and again). It took most of us a few times – you need to be tenacious.”

If it’s your dream to become an astronaut, the work may seem daunting, but McClain emphasizes how it’s all worth it.

“Do what you love doing because you love doing it. Be adaptable, trustworthy, tenacious, and detail-oriented,” she said.

“Understand this job requires sacrifice by both you and your family. And most of all, go for it. Submit your application. It is so worth it!”

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