How To Become An Astronaut

Have you ever thought about becoming an astronaut the requirements to become one?

Well, this is a competitive profession because every single year, qualified candidates compete in an application to fill up limited spots.

The candidates undergo a lot of testing so one needs to have endurance.

For one to become an astronaut, he must be trained to be a pilot for a spacecraft and also have a master’s degree from the STEM program (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)

In this article, we will be discussing who an astronaut is, what they do, and how to become one.

Who is an Astronaut?

An astronaut is a person who is equipped and trained then deployed to serve as a crew member by the human spaceflight program aboard a spacecraft.

The term astronaut is normally applied to people to travel to space like scientists, tourists, journalists, etc

No matter your nationality or allegiance, “astronaut” applies to all space travellers.

However, astronauts from Russia are called “cosmonauts”. This is to distinguish them from American space travellers.

According to Britannica, ” astronauts” are referred to individuals from America, Japan, and Europe who travel into space. Like initially mentioned, the individuals from Russia who travel into space are called Cosmonauts. Whereas the Chinese call their space travellers “Taikonauts”

This is someone who has been specifically trained to fly into space.

Depending on the government programs they are directed to follow, they all do similar tasks or duties.

For example, conducting experiments in space, analyzing the samples of rock, ensuring equipment in the space station is properly maintained.

Astronauts come from a Greek word that means space sailor. They go with a purpose to study a part of the universe when they go to outer space.

Did you know that Astronauts and researchers before going on a mission earn as much as they can by reading, experimenting, and looking at any space picture?

After much learning and researching, they take a trip to this space to see if all they have been researching is correct or if they can learn something new.

Some have walked on the moon while some have orbited the earth. Also, no astronaut has ever travelled to any other planet. No plans to send anyone to these planets yet.

How Did Astronauts Become?

This astronaut can share information about what happens in outer space with us as they have become our eyes and ears on earth.

Travelling on a spacecraft helps scientists in their study of the universe. However, astronauts give that sense of pride to their own country. For instance, Russia and the United States want to beat themselves with regard to anything that has to do with outer space.

It started in the 1960s and it’s called the Space Race. Both countries want to be first in everything. The first to send a man to the moon. After the American astronaut landed on the moon, he had to fly the American flag for lots of viewers to see.

Astronauts have become a part of the United States space program, National Aeronautics and Space Administration also known as NASA since 1959.

So any crew member aboard the NASA spacecraft is described as an astronaut by NASA.

U.S. Astronauts are usually 26-46 years old though there are no age requirements.

Some early U.S. astronauts who had experience in flying jets and a background in engineering were military personnel. 

Astronauts are trained by the Air force or civilian space agency which are some military branches.

They are required to have a masters degree as the field is open to journalists, doctors etc.

There is also a recent addition of commercial astronauts as space flights privately funded are on the increase.

How are Astronauts Trained?

The NASA astronaut selection board first reviews the astronaut applicants.

They will spend two years training at the Johnson Space Centre Houston if selected as astronaut candidates to serve on International Space Missions.

They wait for years sometimes to be selected for a space mission. When they are not in space, they work on grounds to support other projects of NASA.

What do Astronauts Do?

Astronauts are selected and trained at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. They are trained to fly spacecraft and become pilots of it too.

They are selected for missions once they have completed their training.

Their mission duties are as follows:

• Piloting Spacecraft

• Conducting experiments

• Commanding decisions

• Providing crew members medical services

• Maintaining the spacecraft

• Operating a space station

• Daily exercise

• Robotic arms control

• Completing a task as a team

• Maintaining the spacecraft by walking on Astronauts

Types of Astronauts

Before you become an astronaut, you need to be aware of the three categories of astronauts with NASA and they include:

  • Astronaut candidates
  • Active astronaut
  • Management astronaut 

Astronaut candidates:

The NASA astronaut corps selects candidates who are out in training at the johnson space centre.

Active Astronauts:

These astronauts are those who have already completed the training as astronaut candidates and are very eligible for flight assignments.

Management astronauts:

These astronauts are not eligible again for flight assessment. They are mostly NASA employees.

Requirements for astronauts

The requirements are complex as this is to ensure the right candidates are selected

Citizenship:

Dual citizenship is allowed as astronaut candidates are U.S. citizens.

 Education:

Applicants for astronauts must have a masters degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics from an accredited college.

36 hours towards a doctorate in fields like science, technology, or mechanics degree is a requirement that should be met.

A completed Doctor of Medicine (M.D), or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Degree, 

Professional Experience Requirement

You must have at least two years of experience after obtaining your degree as an astronaut candidate or have at least 1000 hours as a pilot on a jet aircraft. And you must also pass the astronaut physical NASA long-duration flight.

Physical Requirement

There are several requirements you got to meet as an astronaut candidate: 

Eyesight:

You can wear your glasses because they are accepted. Near and distant eye acuity in each eye is correct to 20/20.

Blood pressure:

Relaxed blood pressure of 140/90 is good

Height:

Between 75 inches(6 feet 3 inches) tall and 62 inches(5 feet 2 inches) talk is good

Physical Shape:

Physical fitness must be good and also according to gender and age 

Physical limits are set for body size, height and weight as astronauts must fit into a spacecraft.

How To Become An Astronaut

If you always had the ambition to become an astronaut. Here are a few steps below for you to take to that include:

Create a plan that includes experience and school:

Before anything, start with building a career plan for yourself.

The military and civilian are two categories the astronauts fall into.

For the requirement, the military and civilians should have at least a degree in academics like engineering, computer education, science, physical science etc.

You will have the opportunity to undergo military training to complete your education if you want to go into the military path.

Many federal programs offer high education courses like post 9/11 or institutions like the United States Air Force Academy.

Applicants under the civilian must apply after completing the masters in one of the programs, hold a medical degree or spend a few years as a doctoral student in technology, science, engineering, etc.

After your degree has been received, you will need relevant pilot hours.

As an astronaut, the benefit is that your experience and education after joining the military are accounted for by the military and the majority of pilots are from military backgrounds. You got to complete the tasks and log hours of training.

Your physique should be accurate:

Rigorous and complex demands are required of the astronaut to stay in shape.

You should make sure you are healthy and fit if you want to become an astronaut. And also be ready for the daily routines and physical screen requirements.

Apply for the NASA candidate selection:

Once you know that you would meet the educational, spiritual and physical requirements, you can apply for NASA selection.

It takes up to 60 days for the application review so do not be alarmed. 

But make sure you do better in the test and screenings as astronaut positions are very competitive.

Train for a Flight:

You would complete a mission before you can enter a flight mission if selected as an astronaut candidate.

To learn the basics it will take two years in a classroom setting and include things like learning about space, vehicles and equipment.

You must succeed in survival training just like in military training.

The mission is selected and astronauts are paired with veteran astronauts in the second phase. 

More experienced astronauts are paired the new counterparts to learn how to pre-launch activities, how to successfully launch a mission and others

When the astronauts receive mission and crew assignments, advanced training occurs. Lasts for 10 months and involves training you in a specific role to join the large team.

Skills Required To Become An Astronaut

There are some skills you need to have and they include:

Analytic Skills:

Before carrying out any scientific experiment, you need to think logically as an astronaut.

You have to be accurate in all your analysis because any mistake would invalidate your research.

Communication skill:

As an astronaut, you need to develop good communication skills to communicate well with other team members. You are seen as a public figure by the public and you have to present your experiences to them, or the government or thought leaders.

Concentration:

As an astronaut, you need to be very focused when performing any task in space.

Critical Thinking:

You must carefully learn to evaluate others’ work as well as your own. Results and conclusions must be determined to be accurate and based on sound reasoning.

Curiosity:

Astronauts have to be willing to learn at every moment in their career life so as to keep up with the advances in technical subjects.

Decision-making skills:

Astronauts are expected to make any life or death decision in an emergency.

Interpersonal skill:

You also have to learn to collaborate well with others. Astronauts need to work well with others in order to achieve a common goal.

Listening skill:

Astronauts need to learn to listen and analyze approaches from different experts in order to complete the task at hand.

Maths Skills:

Mathematical skills are very important as they have to be involved in complex calculations like algebra, geometrics, calculus and other math areas. Their research must be expressed in mathematical terms.

Mechanical Skills:

With this skill, the astronaut can apply basic concepts of engineering and mechanical processes to the operations of new systems.

Problem solving:

Scientific observation is used by the astronauts including creative thinking to solve difficult problems. Their approach to finding a solution might be redesigned if anything goes wrong.

Self-discipline:

In order to work in space, astronauts need to develop the self-discipline to accomplish tasks assigned to them.

Stamina:

There are lots of demanding physical tasks expected of the astronaut. From launching to living in space then returning to earth. They need to develop quite a stamina to keep up with all the required tasks.

Teamwork:

This is very important for astronauts. This is one of the critical skills needed. An astronaut needs to develop the ability to work together with others in a team.

FAQ

  1. How can a normal person become an astronaut?

To become an astronaut today, applicants need an accredited master’s degree in one of the STEM fields. These include biology, engineering, physics, mathematics, computer science, and computer science.

  1. Is there anything that disqualifies you from becoming an astronaut?

It has come to my attention, through my research, that being outside of a certain height range, having too high blood pressure, and having a vision that isn’t at least 20/20 can all disqualify you from becoming an astronaut through NASA.

Conclusion

As discussed above, there are some requirements needed for one to become an astronaut. You need to be physically fit, have a master’s degree in approved courses required to become an astronaut.

Above all, you need to develop certain skills like problem solving and analytics in order to accomplish tasks appropriately.

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