NASA has announced that it is seeking new astronauts. Find out what you need to apply! (Washington Post)

Do you really need five reasons why it’s awesome to be an astronaut? Here they are, in any case! (And it doesn’t even count having your poop become shooting stars!)

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Learn more about being an astronauts here!

Discussion Ideas

  • What type of education do you need to be an astronaut?
    • You need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics. (Find out if your school is accredited here.)
      • FYI: The following are not qualifying degrees: technology (engineering technology, aviation technology, medical technology, etc.); psychology (except for clinical psychology, physiological psychology, or experimental psychology, which are qualifying); nursing; exercise physiology or similar fields; social sciences (geography, anthropology, archaeology, etc.); and aviation, aviation management or similar fields.


  • What type of work experience do you need to be an astronaut?
    • Your degree must be followed by at least three years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. (An advanced degree, such as a Ph.D., may be substituted for experience.)
      • FYI, science teachers: Teaching experience, including experience at the K-12 levels, is considered qualifying experience for the Astronaut Candidate position and educators are encouraged to apply!


  • How old do you have to be?
    • There is no age limit for astronauts, but given the education and experience required, you probably have to be old enough to drive a car.
    • Astronaut candidates selected in the past have ranged between the ages of 26 and 46, with the average age being 34.
      • The youngest actual astronaut in space was Sally Ride, who was 32 when she was part of the space shuttle Challenger crew in 1983.
      • The oldest astronaut in space was John Glenn, who was 77 when he was part of the space shuttle Discovery crew in 1998. (Thirty-six years earlier, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth; he was 40 at the time, and went through NASA’s first astronaut candidacy procedures a few years earlier.)


  • Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to be a NASA astronaut?
    • Yes. However, NASA has agreements with several other space agencies such as JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency), ESA (European Space Agency), and AEB (Brazilian Space Agency). Astronaut hopefuls are encouraged to apply through their country’s space program.


  • Do you need to be a pilot?
    • It depends on what you want to do.
      • Commander and pilot astronauts must have at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. During flight, the commander has onboard responsibility for the vehicle, crew, mission success, and safety of flight. The pilot assists the commander in controlling and operating the vehicle.
      • Mission astronaut specialists are not required to have flight time. Mission specialist astronauts work with the commander and the pilot and have overall responsibility for coordinating operations in the following areas: systems, crew activity planning, consumables usage, and experiment/payload operations.


  • Do you have to have served in the military?
    • Nope, although former and current members of all branches of the military are encouraged to apply.


  • Do you need to be very healthy and physically fit?
    • Yes!
      • You need to have 20/20 vision, either uncorrected or corrected; your blood pressure must be 140/90 when measured in a seated position; and you must be between 62 and 75 inches tall (about 5’2” and 6’2”, for commanders and pilots) or 58.5 and 76 inches tall (about 4’9” and 6’3”, for mission specialists).
      • You must be able to pass NASA’s physical fitness assessment, which includes tests of strength, endurance, and agility. Get started on your own “Space Gym” with our activity featuring NASA astronauts.
      • Other standards for NASA astronauts include nutritional intake, aerobic endurance, and muscle strength.


  • What is the salary for an astronaut?
    • Like all government employees, astronauts are paid using the General Schedule (GS) scale. Astronauts are paid at grades GS-11 and GS-14—between $66,026 and $144,566 per year.


  • How tough is the competition to be an astronaut?
    • Very! In all recorded history, there have only been about 300 astronauts; here’s the list.
      • According to the Washington Post, “[w]hen NASA put out a call for applications in 2011, they received over 6,100 applications and only selected eight as potential future astronauts. That’s an acceptance rate of just over 0.1%. Not to mention the fact that you still have to get through training after making the cut. But a 0.1% chance is better than a 0% chance, which is what your odds of becoming an astronaut are if you just sit around moping.”
Mission Specialist Joseph R. Tanner waves waves toward the camera of his spacewalk colleague, astronaut Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper as the two share extravehicular activity (EVA) duties. The STS-115 astronauts and Expedition 13 crew worked on construction of the International Space Station. Photo by NASA
Mission Specialist Joseph R. Tanner waves waves toward the camera of his spacewalk colleague, Mission Specialist Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, as the two share extravehicular activity (EVA) duties. The STS-115 astronauts and Expedition 13 crew worked on construction of the International Space Station.
Photo by NASA


Washington Post: NASA is looking for new astronauts. Do you have what it takes?

NASA: Be an Astronaut: NASA Seeks Explorers for Future Space Missions

NASA: @NASA Astronauts

Nat Geo: 5 Reasons Why Astronauts Are Awesome

NASA: 5 Myths About Becoming an Astronaut

NASA: Astronaut Selection and Training

NASA: Astronaut Career FAQ

NASA: Astronaut Selection Program (and how to apply)

NASA: All Things Astronaut

NASA: For Educators

2 thoughts on “NASA Wants YOU!

  1. NASA will get you to sign secret act not to reveal they can’t get pass the Van Allen radiation belts surrounding the earth. Never been anywhere all lies all crap. NWO deception.

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