Education

What Do You Need To Be An Astronaut

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 2 minute read

The Greek term for Astronaut, which means Space Sailor, is Astronaut. You’ll need to learn how to gain your sea legs before you can set sail on the vastness of the universe on your spacecraft.

Sure, you say to yourself, an astronaut is a possibility. It’s not just humans that have been to outer space. As a matter of fact, being an astronaut is a difficult endeavor. First, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), which is the United States government entity responsible for much of our country’s space exploration efforts. NASA’s projects and missions preserve a focus on non-military applications of space research, as opposed to military ones.

NASA no longer accepts unsolicited applications for employment positions. In order to be considered for the Astronaut Candidate Program, a prospective Astronaut Pilot must first apply and satisfy the following criteria:

Qualifications to Become an Astronaut

  1. You must be a U.S. citizen
  2. Engineering, physical science, biology, or mathematics bachelor’s degree from an authorized program. A graduate degree is nonetheless strongly encouraged.
  3. Similar to a military flight physical, pass the NASA space physical. Physical qualifications include eyesight of 20/100 or greater, a blood pressure of 140/90, and a height between 62 and 75 inches. This may sound strange, but it’s true. Age limits do not apply.

    In the past, astronauts ranged in age from 26 to 46 years old, with the average candidate being 34 years old.

Training Program

A candidate must then complete a two-year training program in order to receive the title of astronaut. To achieve the requirements of the position, the training will comprise 1,000 hours of jet aircraft pilot-in-command time.

As a trainee astronaut, you will report to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. There, you will acquire all of the necessary information and abilities for official mission training. You must demonstrate your competence through testing and assessments. Among the necessary exercises are the following:

  • Learn to SCUBA dive
  • Swim three laps of the pool in your flying suit and tennis shoes.
  • You must be able to tread water continuously for ten minutes.
  • Training in Extravehicular Activity
  • Study Robotics
  • Russian language ability
  • Training for International Space Stations
  • Flight instruction for aircraft

So there’s a lot to get through. But consider this: if you make it, you get to go to space. That’s worth pretty much any amount of effort and difficulty, right?

Career Outlook

The Houston Chronicle estimates that in 2013, the beginning wage for a Civilian Astronaut was around $65,000. At the top of the salary range, those with years of experience (above $140,000 per year) might receive. In addition to a varied pay scale and benefits package, astronauts with a military history are compensated differently.

It’s clear that not everyone who sets their sights on becoming an astronaut succeeds. But becoming an astronaut is like being an Olympian — whatever it takes, and whatever the odds, if it’s your ambition, it’s worth going for. You’re basically aiming for the stars in this scenario.

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