Do you have a dream of one day travelling in space? Would you like to work with technology and science in an exciting work environment? Then the unique career of being an astronaut might be something for you.

In this article we will look at how you can become an astronaut – because yes, it actually is possible. We will also answer common questions such as:

  • What qualifications are needed to become an astronaut?
  • How much does an astronaut earn?
  • How hard is it to become an astronaut?
  • What are the chances of becoming an astronaut?
The workplace of an astronaut is space. The most famous astronauts make it – quite literally – to the moon.

What is the job of an astronaut?

An astronaut, also referred to as a spaceman/spacewoman, cosmonaut, space traveler or -pilot, performs these duties as part of their job function:

  • Prepare for space travels as part of the expedition team
  • Perform on-ground studies and research work
  • Perform test flights of space travel vehicles and test jets
  • Some will be assigned to a technical role at the Houston Johnson Space Center
  • Support current missions
  • Advise NASA engineers on how to develop future spacecraft
  • Maneuvre and steer the space shuttle on active missions
  • Live and work on the space shuttle for some days on space expeditions, performing routines and scientific experiments

Places of employment: An astronaut is employed with a national space agency.

Some of the government space agencies that employ astronauts.

Salary: The average salary for an astronaut varies from 60.000-140.000$ depending on experience.

How to become an astronaut

You don’t find job listings for astronauts in the local paper. It is a very specific career that you embark on as part of a selection program within the national space agency (in USA called NASA).

To be consired for the astronaut program, the requirements are

  • NASA requirements for United States are
    • Be a US citizen
    • Hold at least a bachelors degree in math, biology, physics or science
    • 1.000 hours of pilot jet aircraft experience or 3 years of related work experience
    • Ability to pass the physical test
    • There are no age requirements, but the average age of selected astronauts is 34 years old, on a range from 26 to 46 (NASA)
  • You then need to apply for posted position with the national space agency of your choice (see list). NASA postings can be found on USAJOBS.
  • It is notoriously difficult to get chosen. In 2017 18,300 people applied to for the NASA astronaut program. 8-14 are chosen ever year.
  • If you do get chosen, you will receive a call from the Flight Operations Directorate as well as the chief of the NASA Astronaut Office

If you have the right qualifications, there is about a 0,05% chance to be chosen for the NASA astronaut class every year.

  • In NASA you will then enter at least two years of training to become fully qualified. In training, you will learn the basics of the space shuttle and become part of a team that operates the NASA T-38 training jets.
  • You will then earn the title of Astronaut (NASA, ESA, CSA, and JAXA) or Cosmonaut is if you get into the Russian Space Agency.
  • You are then secured employment within the agency you trained for.

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