Becoming a space sailor for NASA is very difficult. There are plenty of applicants, but only a small percentage go all the way to becoming a NASA astronaut. There are a plethora of reasons that candidates do not make it all the way. To help you learn how to avoid some of these mistakes, we present you with what it takes to be a NASA astronaut.
The first thing NASA looks at in its astronaut candidates is the right education. NASA wants their astronauts to hold a bare minimum of a bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. There are a few exceptions to this rule for certain fields, such as geography or aviation management. Many astronauts actually have master's and doctorate degrees in a variety of different fields.
Besides a good education, NASA is looking for serious and related work experience of at least three years. Exceptions to this rule include advanced degrees, where a master's is equal to one year experience and a doctorate is worth three years work experience. Teachers can also be an exception to this rule, though they are still required to have a technical bachelor's degree.
The brain is not the only muscle NASA is interested in. There is also a demanding physical that candidates must pass in order to move on in the selection process.
These requirements include:
- A height of between 62 and 75 inches
- 20/20 vision (either naturally or with corrective lenses)
- Blood pressure not more than 140/90 in a sitting position
Even if a candidate meets these physical requirements, they are expected to be in very good shape. The cost of making a return trip to Earth for some sort of medical emergency is simply too high. There are also several interviews and other steps during this selection process. These interviews are designed to test a candidate's physical and psychological state.
Now that a candidate has made it through this selection process, they are considered an astronaut candidate. Each selected astronaut candidate is required to perform two years of basic training. During this extensive, two year training program, candidates learn about the International Space Station (ISS), as well as spaceflight on the whole. The physical training and education include a whole host of things. They receive training in scuba diving, water survival training, swimming tests, atmospheric pressure extremes, rides on a modified jetliner the climbs and then drops quickly to simulate weightlessness in space (colorfully nicknamed the Vomit Comet) and special training in both media and the Russian language.
Finally, it is time to head into space. Well, not quite yet. There are still years of training and working as an astronaut 'CapCom' in Mission Control. Even after being selected for a flight, an astronaut has a couple years of mission training. Becoming an astronaut means you have to give up a lot in life, but what these men and women gain from their sacrifices cannot be measured.