[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: How to become an astronaut?

>From the NASA FAQ list:


Any adult man or woman in excellent physical condition who meets
the basic qualifications can be selected to enter astronaut training.

For mission specialists and pilot astronauts, the minimum requirements
include a bachelor's degree in engineering, science or mathematics from
an accredited institution. Three years of related experience must follow
the degree, and an advanced degree is desirable.  Pilot astronauts must
have at least 1,000 hours of experience in jet aircraft, and they need
better vision than mission specialists.  Competition is extremely keen,
with an average of over 4,000 applicants for about 20 openings every
2 years.

Astronaut recruiting occurs periodically.  For more information, write
to the Astronaut Selection Office, NASA Johnson Space Center,
Houston, TX, 77058.


Anyway, like Kelly, I used to work at JSC.  I know someone who is
actually undergoing the process and I know an astronaut.  Let me
tell you that it's harder than you think.  The neatest part, in my
is that the first step is filling out a standard form for application to
a government job.  I think that's an SF-171, but my memory could
be lying... anyone remember what the form number is for applying to
a federal job?

Basically the requirements aren't officially strict.  They're tough, but
a huge percentage of the applicants make the requirements... they
wouldn't apply otherwise, for the most part.  But it's the competition,
the fact that you are competing with so many people who are just
as good if not better than you, that makes it hard.  When they have
two candidates who both meet the requirements, they look for the
person who has gone above and beyond.  And when you've got
two hundred candidates who all meet the requirements, well.....

So while a bachelor's degree is the requirement, most civilian
astronauts (and a good sized portion of military astronauts) have
a PhD.  Physical requirements are hard, but certainly not
unattainable - they don't put you through the rigor of the old
Mercury/Gemini/Apollo days.  20/20 vision is not necessary (at
least not for mission specialists).  A bunch of astronauts
wear glasses on orbit, although I don't know what the deal
is with contacts. I'm pretty sure none of the current astronauts
ever attended space camp - hasn't been around that long. The
most important thing, as you mention, is education. Piloting
experience certainly won't hurt, although it isn't needed to be a
mission specialist.  Being a well rounded individual helps, as well.
Mostly what it comes down to is the "interview" (a multi-part
process), so a charismatic personality can't hurt, either.

There are some apocryphal legends, as well, about what some of
the interview entails.  At one point, supposedly, the remaining
candidates are brought out to dinner at this cool cajun place out by
Ellington Field (which I can't remember the name of off hand, but
it's right on 3, outside of Ellington... help me out Kelly?)  Basically
they want to see you drink.... and stop.  Rumors of not drinking at
all getting you disqualified (no constitution, anti-social, whatever),
and of candidates going too far and not knowing when to stop
themselves getting disqualified.  Of course, this is not part of the
official process.  And, like I said, apocryphal.


>From: 	Philip Bakelaar[SMTP:pbakelaar@exit109.com]
>Sent: 	Monday, July 22, 1996 11:42 PM
>To: 	Kevin 'Tex' Houston; Kelly Starks x7066 MS 10-39
>Cc: 	David Levine; Zenon Kulpa; KellySt@aol.com;
>T.L.G.vanderLinden@student.utwente.nl; stevev@efn.org;
>jim@bogie2.bio.purdue.edu; rddesign@WOLFENET.COM;
>lparker@destin.gulfnet.com; DotarSojat@aol.com; sl0c8@cc.usu.edu;
>neill@foda.math.usu.edu; mkshp@IONET.NET
>Subject: 	How to become an astronaut?
>Hey guys, I have a friend who is serious about wanting to
>be an astronaut. I'm just wondering what you guys suggest
>she should do to have a good chance? Like, does she *need*
>to go to NASA camp? What about grades? Health requirements
>(like 20/20 vison)?
>Thanx for any and all info