The truth you need to know about becoming an Astronaut

Many kids and adults all over the world dream of becoming an astronaut. Many kids throughout the generations have had such dreams, but only a handful have been able to fulfil their wish of becoming a professional astronaut in the past 5 decades. The passion of reaching the space is not something that can become a reality overnight. It involves years of dedicated approach, education, and experience. Despite all these efforts, many can’t get through the first attempt as only a few applicants can become astronauts making it hard to get through.


Types of jobs on offer:

  • Mission control astronauts
  • Pilot astronauts
  • Payload specialist

Education: To become an astronaut, the first thing is to have relevant experience in school. There are two main categories of astronauts applicants:

  • Military: The procedures differ based on the US armed forces branch you are working in, and you will have to apply through that branch and not individually
  • Civilian: They can apply to NASA directly.

Irrespective of the type of applicants, the aspiring astronauts should have a bachelor’s degree in maths, engineering, biological science or physical science at the least. Many successful astronauts have a master’s and a doctoral degree

Physical fitness: Candidates who aspire to become astronauts have to be in great physical shape with a 20/20 vision, a height between 62 and 75 inches for a pilot astronaut and a height between 58.5 and 76 inches for mission control astronauts.

  • Blood pressure less than 140/90.
  • It is essential for you to be a good swimmer.
  • The candidate should not have any diseases and is not dependant on drugs, alcohol or tobacco.
  • If you are applying for a pilot astronaut post, then it is recommended to have flight test experience.
  • The candidate should have normal functionality in all the joints
  • The candidate should not have any mental health issues.

There will be many interviews during the selection process where the candidate will be tested physically, mentally as well as psychologically.

After getting selected: If you are selected after this rigorous process, you are still not considered as an Astronaut as there are other procedures to complete. You will have to complete two years of training where you will work as an astronaut candidate. During this period, the candidate will get classroom training about the space stations and spaceflight. Here you will have to learn scuba diving, water survival training, swimming tests, and will be trained in atmospheric pressures of varying degrees high and low. You will also be trained in Russian language, conduct flights in vomit comet and much more.

Post the graduation, the astronauts will still not be assigned flights, and it may take years before they are sent. Till then they will have to work as backups to other astronauts in Orbits, work in NASA and other partners like Canada, learn to operate the robotic arm. They are also expected to be proficient on T-38 aircraft and have minimum hours of flying time per month. Even if the astronaut is selected for a flight it will take a few years to complete the training. After classroom training, there will be many simulations to get a feel of things. The civilians who complete the training will have to be a NASA employee for at least 5 years before they can become an astronaut.

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