A Complete Guide on How to Become An Astronaut

A Complete Guide on How to Become An Astronaut

 As children, almost all of us dreamed of becoming a doctor, an astronaut, or an engineer. Learning about spaceship landings on planets and in the universe excited us all as kids. “Being an Astronaut” is one of the topics that are in most notebooks about what your dream job is, going to space, it’s not about the universe anymore, it’s not a comfortable job, it’s done by astronauts, more about that Learning the universe is not an easy task. Handy work is done by astronauts, well-trained, knowledgeable, well-equipped people flying in space.

Becoming an astronaut is a highly competitive and selective career. Each year, qualified candidates compete against each other in a rigorous application process to fill a very limited number of spots. In this article, we will examine what astronauts do, how astronauts are trained, job requirements, and how to become an astronaut.

Who is An Astronaut?

The word “astronaut” means “star glider”. Astronauts are specially trained and equipped individuals who fly into space as part of the space program. Astronauts have been part of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space program since 1959.

NASA uses “astronaut” to describe any crew member on a NASA spacecraft or member of NASA’s astronaut corps. NASA selects its astronauts from a pool of applicants from diverse backgrounds. From the thousands of applications received, only a few are selected to participate in the intensive astronaut candidate training program.

 

Early US astronauts were military personnel with experience flying jet aircraft and a technical background. In 1964, scientist-astronauts were added, requiring a Ph.D. in medicine, engineering, physics, chemistry, or biology. Astronauts are typically trained by military services (such as the Air Force or Space Force) or civilian space agencies.

What Do Astronauts Do?

An astronaut is trained to pilot or fly in a spacecraft. They are typically selected and trained at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for US or international space missions. After completing your training, you must be selected for a mission. Mission duties may include:

  • Commanding decisions
  • Piloting spacecraft
  • Conducting experiments
  • Maintaining the spacecraft
  • Providing medical and emergency services to crew members
  • Walking in space to maintain the spacecraft
  • Operating a space station
  • Controlling robotic arms and machinery
  • Exercising daily
  • Working as a team to complete tasks

How To Become An Astronaut

If you want to become an astronaut, follow these steps:

Step 1: Create a Plan That Includes Schools And Experiences

Start planning your career. Astronauts can fall into one of two categories: military or civilian. According to the above requirements, both military and civilian astronauts should have a college degree in a technical discipline such as biophysics, science, computer science, or engineering.

Taking the military path prepares you to complete your training through the military. College courses are offered through several federal programs, such as B. the American GI Bill after 9/11, or educational institutions such as the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Civilian applicants may apply after completing a master’s degree in one of the above programs, a medical degree, or a two-year doctorate in a science, technology, engineering, or math field.

After you graduate, you will need relevant work experience or pilot lessons. Another benefit of joining the astronaut program after military service is that the military can explain your experience and training. Most astronaut pilots come from a military background where they spend hours training and completing their missions.

Step 2: Get in Peak Physical Shape

Astronauts have strict physical requirements, so they need to stay in shape. As you prepare to become an astronaut, make health and fitness a priority in your daily life to prepare for the demands of the job and medical requirements.

Step 3: Apply to NASA for Candidate Selection

Once you have determined that you can meet the physical, educational, and experience requirements, apply to NASA Candidate Selection. According to NASA’s website, application review typically takes up to 60 days, so don’t panic if you don’t get a response right away. Astronaut positions at NASA are highly competitive, so make sure you do your best in all testing and screening.

Step 4: Flight Training

If you are selected as an astronaut candidate, you must complete extensive mission training before entering the mission. Basic training lasts two years and takes place primarily in the classroom, including learning about the space station, vehicles, and equipment. Astronauts must also complete survival training outside of the classroom, similar to military training.

In the second phase of training, missions are selected and astronauts are paired with experienced astronauts. New astronauts are grouped with more experienced astronauts to learn how to successfully launch a mission, complete pre-launch activities, reach orbit, and more. Continuing education occurs when astronauts receive crew and task assignments. It lasts 10 months and includes training for your specific role in a larger team.

How to Qualify to Become An Astronaut 

According to those who got the job, a refusal to give up is a trait that is often essential to being an astronaut. Earning a college degree in a technical discipline is crucial for prospective NASA astronauts because teams of astronauts must be able to work together to solve technical problems that arise on the spacecraft.

The minimum qualifications required to become an astronaut are listed on NASA’s website. Astronaut requirements change with NASA’s goals and missions. To be considered for an astronaut position today, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • become US citizens
  • Earn a master’s degree* in a STEM field from an accredited institution, including engineering, life sciences, physical sciences, computer science, or mathematics.
  • At least two years of relevant work experience after graduation or at least 1,000 hours of jet-flight time.
  • Can pass NASA astronaut medical exam for long-term flight.

Technical training alone is not enough to become an astronaut. In addition to the academic qualification, prospective astronauts need two years of relevant professional experience or 1,000 flight hours as a jet pilot. Also, he or she must be able to pass a medical exam.

One benefit of trying to break into this highly competitive industry, according to the former astronaut, is that the required credentials are marketable for many other desirable positions, including research scientist and engineering positions.

Types of Astronauts

NASA astronauts fall into three categories. They include:

  • Astronaut Candidates: These individuals have been selected for the NASA Astronaut Corps and train at the Johnson Space Center.
  • Active Duty Astronauts: Active duty astronauts are defined as astronauts who have completed astronaut candidate training and meet the requirements for flight missions.
  • Managed Astronauts: These astronauts are employees of NASA but are no longer authorized to fly.

How Are Astronauts Trained?

Astronaut applicants are first reviewed by NASA’s Astronaut Selection Committee. If selected as astronaut candidates, they complete a two-year training course at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for US or international space missions. They then wait (sometimes years) to be selected for space missions. When not in space, astronauts work on the ground to support other NASA programs.

5 Subjects You Can Study If You Want To Become An Astronaut

Here are five academic subjects to help you launch your space career.

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering students learn to build, understand and repair electronic and electrical systems. Given the technology that the space shuttle relies on, choosing a bachelor’s program in electrical engineering is an excellent place to start your career as an astronaut.

Engineers make up a large portion of astronauts, and with good reason. Engineers are designers, innovators, and, above all, problem solvers. You will be trained to find practical solutions to real-life problems. When you’re circling through space at 17,500 miles per hour, you want these guys on your team.

Space travel remains at the forefront of technology and innovation, and astronauts play a critical role in testing, evaluating, and improving the systems they work on. Although you will learn a great deal during your undergraduate degree, it is unlikely that you will have enough time to develop the knowledge and experience needed to become an astronaut. Most astronauts have a master’s degree, and a Ph.D. greatly improves your chances of reaching the stars.

Astrophysics

A degree in astrophysics is an ideal starting point for future astronauts. Astrophysics is a discipline that combines physics, chemistry, mathematics, and cosmology. It also raises some of the most important questions. According to NASA’s website, astrophysics seeks to “find out how the universe works and explore how it began and evolved.”

Astrophysics is a complex field of study. Top students must demonstrate a high level of abstract reasoning and master advanced mathematical and scientific concepts, including quantum mechanics, field theory, and vector calculus.

But it’s not just about your hard skills. Astrophysicists are attempting to solve some of the greatest mysteries known. Therefore, the best practitioners are naturally curious individuals, willing to explore every possible option and find some that have never been considered before. Black holes, string theory, and the fabric of spacetime are all based on mathematical principles, but they can only be truly conceptualized by the human imagination.

Again, a bachelor’s degree is just the starting point for most astrophysicists. After that comes graduate school, which can last up to eight years – and when you’re done, you can start your Ph.D.

Biochemistry

Biochemistry is the study of chemical changes related to living organisms. His research is primarily laboratory-based, combining chemistry and biology to better understand how cells communicate and develop. Biochemistry also studies how different environments and stresses affect the human body, making it a valuable area of ​​study for aspiring astronauts.

One of the most critical health issues for astronauts is their nutritional needs. Weightlessness disrupts many physiological processes, including absorption, metabolism, and excretion. For example, astronauts don’t need as much iron in their diets. The reduced need for iron is the result of reduced blood cell production. Consuming too much iron can increase toxicity, which can lead to headaches, weight loss, nausea, and difficulty breathing. This is just a small example of how biochemists are constantly evaluating physiological changes and making adjustments accordingly.

Aeronautics

Many astronauts begin their careers as commercial or military pilots. Previously, fighter pilot experience was a prerequisite for any prospective astronaut, and the service is still a huge plus for applicants. But even if you don’t have actual flight experience, understanding the science of flight is an excellent stepping stone to becoming an astronaut.

Students begin by learning the basics of flight science, including aerodynamics, propulsion theory, and materials and structures. There they learn how to design, build and test next-generation aircraft.

Students require some understanding of physics and mathematics, and there is an increasing demand for people with a computer programming background.

Students must be willing to commit themselves to their studies in the long term. Aerospace is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible and therefore selects the most dedicated and talented graduates. Almost three-quarters of astronauts have master’s degrees, most of them in aerospace engineering.

Geology

Geology deals with the physical structure and matter of the earth and the processes that influence its evolution. It also includes the study of other terrestrial planets and natural satellites such as moons and asteroids.

Geologists are also an important part of the Mars exploration program, which attempts to explain the similarities and differences between the red planet and our own. This includes studying volcanoes, tectonics, impact craters, and the massive storms that shape the Earth’s terrain.

Physical/Medical Requirements for ISRO, NASA, and SpaceX

Leaving an alternate dimensional world requires certain physical and medical requirements. These play a crucial role in astronaut employability, and since an emergency return is not easy or inconvenient, it is best to take precautions.

  • NASA Requirements: Candidates go through a physical assessment training program that includes tests such as swimming, diving, military aquatic survival, and barometric pressure tests, which NASA says assess many conditions.
  • ISRO Requirements: As ISRO is about to launch its first space mission, astronauts wishing to apply must have a satisfactory medical history, perfect eyesight, normal blood pressure, and be in good physical condition. In addition to these physical requirements, certain psychological aspects are also taken into account, such as B. The astronaut’s history of substance abuse, cognitive/masculinity, and behavioral aspects.

  • Requirements For Spacex: In general, normal medical and physical health standards should be used. These standards are based on evidence-based medicine and have been validated by clinical studies. Candidates must be free from any medical condition or drug, alcohol, or cigarette addiction. All joints have a normal range of motion and function. Vision is 100% (20/20) in both eyes, untreated or corrected with lenses or contact lenses. Candidates must avoid any mental illness. Good health at an age and gender-appropriate level of fitness is essential. When sitting, blood pressure should not be higher than 140/90. The required standard height is between 157 and 190 cm.

How to Become An Astronaut: FAQs

What is the Salary of An Astronaut?

Astronaut pay depends on your military employment status or experience as a civilian astronaut. When you’re in the military, you don’t get “paid” as an astronaut. Your salary depends on your rank. Civilian astronauts are considered government employees and are paid at grades GS-13 through GS-15 based on the Federal Master Pay Scale. According to FederalPay.org, a GS-13 can make up to $103,309 per year, while a GS-14 can make $122,077. The top-of-the-line GS-15 makes $143,598 per year.

How Long Does It Take To Become An Astronaut?

About 10 years. It’s broken down into four years of college, two years of a master’s degree, two years of work experience, and then two years with the NASA Astronaut Corps.

Is Flight Experience Necessary?

Reaching your goal of becoming an astronaut takes commitment and time. It will take about ten years to complete. Here’s how it works: You can earn a bachelor’s degree in about four years, followed by a master’s degree in two years, work experience in another two years, and the required basic training in the last two years.

Flight experience is not required, but gaining military or private flight experience is an advantage. Earning 1,000 hours as a jet pilot meets NASA’s Professional Experience requirements. Jet experience is typically gained through the military.

How Do I Apply To Be An Astronaut?

Military members and active duty civilians are also required to submit applications through USA JOB. Military members are also required to notify their commanders of their interest in the space program.

 

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Conclusion 

Becoming an astronaut takes a lot of hard work. It’s quite a difficult job. I hope this blog will help you pave your way into space and give you important details on how to become an astronaut. Deciding on this career choice is a decision that requires lifelong dedication. If you want to aim high but don’t know where to start, our Scholars Platform experts will help you find the right courses and universities and create a career map to help you achieve your career goals.

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