It’s the dream of numerous children to become an astronaut — to break-free of gravity, float above the world and travel the cosmos. For many, this dream fades by adulthood. except for some, this elusive career will always be a goal.
So, what does it fancy become an astronaut?
First, to be a candidate, you always must be a citizen of country that’s a member of space agency. To check in with NASA, for instance , you want to be a U.S. citizen. However, some private space companies may recruit astronauts without reference to their citizenship.
Many qualifications, like education, are similar across space agencies. To apply to be an astronaut with the European Space Agency (ESA), for instance , you would like a academic degree or higher within the natural sciences, medicine, engineering, mathematics or computing , otherwise you need an experimental pilot degree, which teaches graduates the way to pilot aircraft that are being tested and the way to manage research programs. NASA has same requirements but also allows 2 years toward a doctorate in these subjects.
A degree isn’t enough, though. To satisfy candidate requirements, applicants also need real-world experience — a minimum of two years of relevant post-graduate experience in their field of study for NASA or 3 years for the ESA. NASA’s requirement also can be met with 1,000 pilot-in-command hours aboard a jet. Because English is that the language used on the International space station , you want to be fluent. (Fluency in other languages, like Russian, is an asset but not a requirement, consistent with the ESA.)
Astronauts must even have a passing health record. for instance , ESA requires medical certification for a Pvt. Pilot License or higher with the initial application, although you are doing not got to hold the license itself. NASA candidates must be ready to pass a long-duration flight astronaut physical. “Typically, as we near the top of the choice process, we put them through same evaluation process that we might use for assigning a current astronaut to a mission, just to form sure that they might be eligible for a spaceflight assignment,” said Anne Roemer, astronaut selection manager at NASA.
In the past, most physical disabilities would have disqualified an individual from being an astronaut. But ESA has launched the Parastronaut Feasibility Project to recruit a minimum of one astronaut with short stature, or under 4 feet, 3 inches (130 centimeters); a pronounced leg length difference; or lower limb deficiency, like amputation at the knee. The agency will work with this astronaut to work out what alterations the space agency must make to existing protocols to send this person to space.
Mental health is simply as important as physical health. Astronauts work long hours in high-stress situations. they’re faraway from their friends and family for months at a time, and communication with those on Earth are often challenging. as an example , on the International space station , email is out there and astronauts can make video calls, but they will only receive audio on their end and calls have a couple of seconds of lag. For missions to Mars, communicating with family back home would likely be harder . Instead, astronauts are stuck in small, enclosed areas with no possible way to urge alone time.
“During the choice process, we’ll test, through psychometric testing and other tools, the mental stability of the person, particularly with reference to if there are any red flags that go up,” like psychiatric disorders, said Dagmar Boos, head of ESA’s Competence and Policy Centre. This mental stability is vital for both the individual astronauts and therefore the safety of the team as an entire , Boos said.
Those are the minimum requirements, but it takes far more to be selected as an astronaut. quite 18,000 people applied to NASA’s astronaut class of 2017, but only 12 were chosen. Candidates must be truly impressive to stand out from the crowd.
One quality that the choice team looks for is that the ability to be both leader & follower . Experience working in extreme environments, just like the North Pole or the desert, can further woo the judges, Boos said. She also looks for people that have had responsibility over the lives of others, like by being a part of a rescue team.
In addition to flying in space, astronauts have technical roles on Earth and are the faces of the spaceflight program, in order that they need to be ready to add a variety of contexts. “We’re trying to find well-rounded people across the board,” Roemer said. “That can include career accomplishments, hobbies and interests.”
Finally, astronauts must be easy to figure with. “The goal is eventually to travel to Mars, which may be a fairly long mission,” Roemer said. “They’re trying to assess, could I be locked in tin can with this person and make sure that we’ve a successful mission?”