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Being an expert is very important. Pilot candidates — who are drafted in their 30s and 40s — often pass up important jobs for the chance at becoming a pilot and start over at the bottom. Training often requires long hours and extensive travel. There’s also no guarantee they’ll get in.
What It Takes To Be A Astronaut
However, more than 18,000 Americans participated in this round of NASA selections. New recruits will be announced on Wednesday (June 7) and will report for basic training in August. Here’s what it takes to become a NASA astronaut and what to expect if you’re selected.
What Does It Take To Be An Astronaut?
NASA has strict requirements for becoming an astronaut. The job requires not only good physical fitness, but also the technical skills to perform difficult tasks aboard a spacecraft or on a space station far from home.
The primary requirement for the profession is a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biochemistry, physical science, computer science or mathematics, followed by three years of professional experience (or 1,000 hours as an aircraft pilot). Applicants must also pass a NASA medical examination. However, there are many other skills to choose from, such as scuba diving, wilderness experience, leadership experience and exposure to other languages (especially Russian, which is relevant). (To be learned by an astronaut today.)
In this photo: These are the basic requirements to become a NASA astronaut, but selected candidates need more experience.
NASA selected 22 “categories” of astronauts from the original seven selected for the Mercury mission in 1959. Since then, the program has grown and changed dramatically. Most of the first-class pilots come from the military, especially test pilots – a group that is considered ready to face the worst. But as NASA missions expand, more skills are required.
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For example, the fourth category of astronauts (1969) was called “scientists” and Harrison J. Schmidt was the only scientist to walk on the moon (at the time of Apollo 17). Other notable classes include Class 8 in 1978 (including women, African Americans and Asian Americans), Class 16 in 1996 (the largest class with 44 members selected for the flight to build the International Station) and Class 21 of 2013 (the first class with a 50/50 ratio of men to women. [Construction International Station (Figure)]
In this photo: NASA’s newest class of astronauts, pictured above, was selected in 2013. This is the first class in which male and female applicants are divided equally.
There are several types of vehicles to look forward to in the new space class. Today, astronauts arrived at the International Space Station, the main space for testing long-duration spaceflight, aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. But in the next few years, NASA hopes to go beyond low-Earth orbit again, with missions to the Moon and Mars. If this goal is achieved, the new team of astronauts will use the Orion spacecraft to explore the depths.
New astronauts can also look forward to launching from U.S. soil when new commercial aircraft are ready. X and Boeing are developing prototypes for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which should be in full swing by the end of the decade. It is the first time an American has been launched from the United States since the completion of the space shuttle program in 2011. [Orion Explained: NASA’s Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (Infographic)]
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As new astronauts begin their journey to the International Station, they may see themselves fly even further. It all depends on where U.S. policy goes over the next few years, and what programs NASA gets involved with.
Other plans are simpler, but NASA has a lot on its mind. The agency is testing its Orion spacecraft and expects an uncrewed mission to the moon in 2019. (The agency considered sending astronauts to the moon, but ultimately decided against it. A technical burden.) The Orion spacecraft took the men to the depths. – Tour in the 2020s and beyond.
Where to go next NASA hopes to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s (if its current plans support that long). As part of this, the agency announced a “Deep Sea Gateway” station near the moon to help astronauts train for deep-sea missions or prepare for a trip to Mars.
In this photo: An artist’s idea of a “Deep Portal” station that could be used near the Moon in the next few years.
What Does It Take To Be A Nasa Astronaut?
While the public focuses on an astronaut’s lifetime, the reality is that astronauts spend only a fraction of their careers in space. Most of their time is spent training and supporting other tasks.
First, pilot candidates undergo about two years of basic training, learning life skills, languages, technical skills and other knowledge needed to become a pilot. After the degree, new astronauts can be sent to the Astronaut Office at the Johnson Center in Houston for missions or technical assignments. These roles could include supporting current missions or advising NASA engineers on how to develop future spacecraft.
In this photo: Anne McClain, member of the 2013 Astronaut Class, serves as CapCom (Captain Communications Officer) on the International Space Station. This role consists of ground observers who communicate directly with space station observers and provide advice to other parts of mission control.
Astronaut candidates have a lot of work to do before a new class of astronauts can be certified ready to fly. Their many tasks include learning how to walk, how to build robots, how to fly airplanes and how to operate international stations.
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Astronaut candidates gain pilot skills by flying NASA’s T-38 fighter jet; practice walking in a 60-foot-deep pool known as the Neutral Buoyancy Lab; capture simulations using a working version of the space station’s robotic arm Canadaarm2; learn Russian; and Receive basic training in station duties. Pilots also deepen leadership and follow-up skills through ground training and survival training. [Historic image: station model in neutral buoyancy simulator]
While PhD candidates selected by NASA will work with the agency, they will also be part of an international network. Along with U.S. commercial partners developing flight equipment and various NASA centers working on manned flights, 16 countries participate in the International Station — each with its own expertise.
For example, Roscosmos (Russian Federation Agency) operates several units in the space station and transports spacecraft using Soyuz rockets. The Canadian Department of Defense is actively involved in robotics activities such as Cargo Ship Capture and Canadaarm2. Other important international partners include the European Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aeronautical Research and Development Agency (JAXA). Each agency has its own astronauts working on the space station and in the astronaut department.
In this picture: Expedition 20 on the international station represents all major nations for the first time. Left to right: Cosmonaut Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos); Koichi Wakata of Japan; Frank DeWine of Europe; Michael Bharat of NASA; Canada Agency (CSA) astronaut Bob Thirsk; NASA astronaut Tim Kopra; and Russian spy Gennady Padalka.
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A record 18,353 applications were received for multiple NASA positions in this round. First, HR personnel review each application to see if it meets key criteria. All eligible applications are reviewed by a panel – the Astronaut Rating Panel. The rating team consists of about 50 people, most of whom are recent graduates. The panel selected hundreds of highly qualified candidates, then checked each candidate’s letters of recommendation.
This process narrowed down the pool of candidates to 120 people. The candidates are then called by a panel called the Astronaut Selection Committee for interviews and medical exams. Afterwards, the top 50 candidates undergo a second round of interviews and further medical examinations. Aviation candidates are selected from these 50.
In this photo: An astronaut application review team, including members of NASA Human Resources, reviews applications for prospective astronauts.
The lucky applicants who are selected will receive a call from the Director of Flight Operations and the Director of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Center. NASA is asking applicants to share this news with their immediate family until NASA makes an official announcement.
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NASA typically holds a press conference to announce new candidates, inviting journalists and social media influencers to ask questions about the new master. Candidates are thus quickly entered into training and require very little time
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