Do You Got the “Right Stuff?”
Even though NASA has recently shutdown the space program and downsized the size of our astronaut force to only 61, they are apparently still looking for recruits. Perhaps they are anticipating the inevitable resurgence that will come with a mission to Mars, but who really cares, didn’t you always want to be an astronaut when you grew up?
You could make that dream a reality, but you would have to be surprisingly well qualified. According to the NASA application, there are some pretty lofty qualifications you must meet:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics.
- Degree followed by at least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience or at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience as follows: master’s degree = 1 year of experience, doctoral degree = 3 years of experience. Teaching experience, including experience at the K – 12 levels, is considered to be qualifying experience for the Astronaut Candidate position; therefore, educators are encouraged to apply.
- Ability to pass the NASA long-duration space flight physical, which includes the following specific requirements:
- Distant and near visual acuity: Must be correctable to 20/20, each eye.
- The refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK and LASIK, are allowed, providing at least 1 year has passed since the date of the procedure with no permanent adverse after effects.
- Blood pressure not to exceed 140/90 measured in a sitting position.
- Standing height between 62 and 75 inches.
- U.S. citizenship is required.
So in addition to the rigorous physical testing, intensive background checks, interviews, and medical examinations, you have to be very well educated. They really are looking for the best and the brightest (also, the pay is pretty good, up to $140,000).
One of the final requirements reads:
Frequent travel may be required.
Duh. To space!
As I stand right now, I am 2 years of education away from becoming an astronaut. So if by then you stop hearing from me, I’ll be in space.