What Are The Qualifications To Be An Astronaut – When we are children, many of us dream about the future. We want to be the President of the United States, a doctor and, in many cases, an astronaut. More often than not, these dreams change as we grow older, but for a select few, thoughts of going into space, walking on the moon, and exploring the unknown never go away. But even if your dreams of becoming an astronaut seem like a long time ago, you’re probably still wondering what it actually entails.
By 2024, NASA’s Artemis program will send the first woman and the next man to the Moon. The pair will travel in the Orion spacecraft atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which will also travel to Mars within the next few decades. This will be the farthest human journey in space!
What Are The Qualifications To Be An Astronaut
In an effort to expand human exploration of the solar system, NASA is currently seeking new astronauts to join the crew for several deep space destinations. Whether you’re intrigued by the idea in a general sense or want to take the necessary steps to achieve it, know that becoming an astronaut is not for the faint of heart. In addition to earning a master’s degree in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field, applicants must complete further training and successfully complete a physical and two rounds of interviews. Astronauts currently in space work on the International Space Station, a laboratory that orbits 240 miles above Earth’s surface, where they conduct scientific experiments such as cancer research. If you’ve ever thought about becoming an astronaut, this could be your chance to land your dream job. NASA opened applications this week for a new class of astronaut candidates. This is a full-time position in Houston, Texas, paying over $104,000 per year. Tasks will include “conducting operations in space, including on the International Space Station (ISS) and in the development and testing of future spacecraft,” as well as “conducting extravehicular activity (EVA) and robotic operations using a system remote manipulator”. Please note that “significant travel” is required.
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How do you know if you have the “right stuff” to apply? First, you’ll need a master’s degree or higher in some STEM field, or two years in a doctoral program, or an M.D. or D.O. degree. Applicants with only a bachelor’s degree in STEM may also be considered if they are also certified test pilots or currently enrolled in test pilot school.
Frank Rubio, a NASA astronaut who completed the last pre-selection program in 2017, joins Ira to talk about other valuable qualities in an astronaut candidate and the training program for those who are accepted.
Frank Rubio is a NASA astronaut and a member of the Astronaut Candidate Class of 2017. He is based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Have you ever wanted to be an astronaut? And I don’t mean like a little kid—I want to be an astronaut and a vet and a firefighter in some way—but actually thinking of it as a real job? Well, this week NASA opened job applications for a new class of astronaut candidates. The whole class – let’s see how many there are in this class. You can apply until the end of March if you think you have the right material.
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What qualities do they look for and what happens after you are selected? Well, we have someone in to be your job coach. Allow me to introduce Frank Rubio. He is a NASA astronaut. It completed the final round of candidate selection in 2017. And now he is reportedly eyeing a flight assignment at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. We invite you to scientific Friday.
IRA FLATOV: It’s good to have you. Let’s talk about some basic qualifications. You need a STEM degree – at least a master’s degree. is that so?
FRANK RUBIO: That’s right. Yes, this is the first year we require at least a master’s degree. It used to be a bachelor’s degree. But I think the last two classes all had a college degree, so they decided to add that as a minimum requirement.
IRA FLATOV: And I know that many of our listeners are applying for at least a master’s degree. Many of them are Ph.D. And if they want to call, we have extension 844-724-8255, 844. Or they can tweet us @SciFri.
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So when you watch old movies about astronauts and qualifications, no one has to have flight experience to be a pilot, right?
FRANK RUBIO: That’s right. You don’t have that much flying experience, but you should be able to pass the physical inspection. One of the things you will be training for is flight training. And of course, for space flight, it’s very important that you can get through the physical flight.
FRANK RUBIO: That’s right. And that’s about it. You know, people are surprised at how simple some of the requirements are. But mostly it’s physical characteristics, degrees, US citizenship and a few years of work experience.
IRA FLATOW: How different it is from when they were on the space shuttle – they had a teacher in space. Once they were going to get a reporter into space. So are we back to this idea?
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FRANK RUBIO: You know, Ira, that’s another thing that people are surprised about is the diversity of people that we bring to the astronaut office. Among us there are those who have military training. But we have a bunch of scientists – we have a huge variety of scientists. We have a couple of teachers in the cosmonaut detachment.
And so as long as you meet the requirements, your education can be anything you want it to be. And we’re looking for people who are curious about the world around them, who are great team players, and who just want to contribute to something much bigger than themselves.
FRANK RUBIO: You know, I don’t think anybody knows yet. It actually requires congressional approval, and that usually doesn’t come until later in the process.
IRA FLATOW: And we heard that NASA wants to go back to the moon. Could you expect to be one of those people if you were accepted?
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FRANK RUBIO: I think there will definitely be some people in the next class who will be involved in the Artemis mission. Artemis is, of course, the name of the mission to the Moon. We hope to go back there in 2024. And of course there will be higher-ranking people in the astronaut office who will be involved in this mission at first, but I think eventually some of us young astronauts will have that opportunity as well.
JOSHUA: Yeah, I was going to ask, I read online that you can be a test pilot school graduate to qualify as well. And if you can, was he military? I am currently in military service and is this possible?
So, you know, historically, the astronaut corps has been made up almost exclusively of military test pilots. This has changed over the past few decades. But there are still a significant number – perhaps around 50% of the core – who are active or former military personnel.
Okay, when you hire someone for a job, you usually have an idea of what tasks they’ll be doing, right? People are selected based on skills that may be needed later, or for example we should grow plants on the moon. Let’s become botanists, or grow potatoes, or something.
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FRANK RUBIO: Yes. So I think. I think you always have to keep the big picture in mind. I think the qualification above all is if you can contribute to the team, if you can be a team player, and if you can really be someone who takes on the mission of NASA and just makes it your own.
FRANK RUBIO: Yeah, I started out as a military Blackhawk pilot. I did it for about eight years. And then I switched to medicine, became a family doctor – also in the army. And my last job was working in the special operations forces as one of their medics.
And I entered the last class. Like many people, I dreamed of being able to fly in space. But really, again, the idea of continuing to contribute to something bigger than myself and being able to do a mission that very few people have the opportunity to do, that’s what really appealed to me. So I thought, hey, what the hell? Let me try it. And I was quite happy to be chosen.
FRANK RUBIO: You know, frankly, any of us would love to do that. But I think we’re all ready to do whatever mission NASA gives us. The International Space Station continues to be an amazing platform and it would be a great honor and privilege to be a part of it.
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