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HOW TO BECOME AN ASTRONAUT ?

At some point in time, you have stopped and wondered about outer space, the planets, life on other galaxies, or Astronauts, or the science of the unkown. If these topics interest you in any way, you may be interested in the field of becoming an Astronaut. I know, it is not something that you hear a lot about, or hear a lot of children saying that they want to be an Astronaut when they get older, but it is a dream for some. And it is up to you to make your dream a reality.

 

Difficulty Level: Hard Time Required: 20 years (A lot of time, but a job with something that you love, is really never a day of work at all!)

 

If you are in school now, here are the important things to remember and to do. It's a long hard voyage to become an astronaut, but today in the US over 200 men and women are training and traveling into space. Who knows - in 10 or 20 years, you could be one of them! In that time, we'll be working along with many other countries to build an international space station, and maybe from there go on to the Moon and Mars. So the need for people to become astronauts is only going to grow. But you do need the proper preparation. Work hard in school and get good grades.

 

Study as much math and science as you can.

 

Do well on your SATs and go to a good college.

 

Study languages other than English - Russian, Japanese, Chinese, and French would all be useful.

 

Get yourself into good physical shape - you need to have good blood pressure and good eyesight TO BE AN ASTRONAUT.

 

Be a good team player, and make sure that you can work well with others.

 

Learn to fly, and get a citizen's pilot license.

 

Attend a good graduate school, studying science or engineering.

 

When you're out of graduate school, apply to NASA. Another good tip that would help you out is to get involved in Space camps. They will teach you many different things, and you will know for sure if being an Astronaut is something that you would like to do.

 

NASA chooses its astronauts from an increasingly diverse pool of applicants that, "looks like America". From thousands of applications from all over the world, approximately 100 men and women are chosen for an intensive astronaut candidate training program every two years. "I cannot imagine a better career. I've done more than I could ever have imagined. I'm thankful that I've been at the right place at the right time," said Kenneth S. Reightler.

 

The study time involved is no more lengthy than that of any other professional career requiring graduate/post-graduate study. If becoming an astronaut is a dream, held long and steadfast, than this labor will be one of love.

 

As always, if you have a dream, you need to work towards living that dream.

 

BEING AN ASTRONAUT TAKES A LOT OF HARD WORK AND TIME, BUT IN SPACE, IS THERE TIME ?

Go out there and live life to the fullest!

 

HOW TO BECOME AN ASTRONAUT

 

There is a mailing list for those interested in sharing information on the astronaut-selection process. If you would like to join, send mail to astronaut-candidates-request@camis.stanford.edu (contact geoff@hisnext.Stanford.EDU (Geoffrey Rutledge)).

 

First the short form, authored by Henry Spencer, then an official NASA

announcement.

 

Q. How do I become an astronaut?

 

A. We will assume you mean a NASA astronaut, since it's probably impossible for a non-Russian to get into the cosmonaut corps (paying passengers are not professional cosmonauts), and the other nations have so few astronauts (and fly even fewer) that you're better off hoping to win a lottery. Becoming a shuttle pilot requires lots of fast-jet experience, which means a military flying career; forget that unless you want to do it anyway. So you want to become a shuttle "mission specialist".

 

If you aren't a US citizen, become one; that is a must. After that, the crucial thing to remember is that the demand for such jobs vastly exceeds the supply. NASA's problem is not finding qualified people, but thinning the lineup down to manageable length. It is not enough to be qualified; you must avoid being *dis*qualified for any reason, many of them in principle quite irrelevant to the job.

 

Get a Ph.D. Specialize in something that involves getting your hands dirty with equipment, not just paper and pencil. Forget computer programming entirely; it will be done from the ground for the fore-seeable future. Degree(s) in one field plus work experience in another seems to be a frequent winner.

 

Be in good physical condition, with good eyesight. (DO NOT get a radial keratomy or similar hack to improve your vision; nobody knows what sudden pressure changes would do to RKed eyes, and long-term effects are poorly understood. For that matter, avoid any other significant medical unknowns.) If you can pass a jet-pilot physical, you should be okay; if you can't, your chances are poor.

 

Practise public speaking, and be conservative and conformist in appearance and actions; you've got a tough selling job ahead, trying to convince a cautious, conservative selection committee that you are better than hundreds of other applicants. (And, also, that you will be a credit to NASA after you are hired: public relations is a significant part of the job, and NASA's image is very prim and proper.) The image you want is squeaky-clean workaholic yuppie.

Remember also that you will need a security clearance at some point, and Security considers everybody guilty until proven innocent.

Keep your nose clean.

 

Get a pilot's license and make flying your number one hobby; experienced pilots are known to be favored even for non-pilot jobs.

 

Work for NASA; of 45 astronauts selected between 1984 and 1988,

43 were military or NASA employees, and the remaining two were

a NASA consultant and Mae Jemison (the first black female astronaut).

If you apply from outside NASA and miss, but they offer you a job

at NASA, ***TAKE IT***; sometimes in the past this has meant "you

do look interesting but we want to know you a bit better first".

 

Think space: they want highly motivated people, so lose no chance

to demonstrate motivation.

 

Keep trying. Many astronauts didn't make it the first time.

 

NASA

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center

Houston, Texas

 

Announcement for Mission Specialist and Pilot Astronaut Candidates

==================================================================

 

ASTRONAUT CANDIDATES PROGRAM

-----------------------------------------

 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a need for

Pilot Astronaut Candidates and Mission Specialist Astronaut Candidates

to support the Space Shuttle Program. NASA is now accepting on a

continuous basis and plans to select astronaut candidates as needed.

 

Persons from both the civilian sector and the military services will be

considered.

 

All positions are located at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in

Houston, Texas, and will involved a 1-year training and evaluation

program.

 

SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

----------------------------------------------

 

The numerous successful flights of the Space Shuttle have demonstrated

that operation and experimental investigations in space are becoming

routine. The Space Shuttle Orbiter is launched into, and maneuvers in

the Earth orbit performing missions lasting up to 30 days. It then

returns to earth and is ready for another flight with payloads and

flight crew.

 

The Orbiter performs a variety of orbital missions including deployment

and retrieval of satellites, service of existing satellites, operation

of specialized laboratories (astronomy, earth sciences, materials

processing, manufacturing), and other operations. These missions will

eventually include the development and servicing of a permanent space

station. The Orbiter also provides a staging capability for using higher

orbits than can be achieved by the Orbiter itself. Users of the Space

Shuttle's capabilities are both domestic and foreign and include

government agencies and private industries.

 

The crew normally consists of five people - the commander, the pilot,

and three mission specialists. On occasion additional crew members are

assigned. The commander, pilot, and mission specialists are NASA

astronauts.

 

PILOT ASTRONAUT

 

Pilot astronauts server as both Space Shuttle commanders and pilots.

During flight the commander has onboard responsibility for the vehicle,

crew, mission success and safety in flight. The pilot assists the

commander in controlling and operating the vehicle. In addition, the

pilot may assist in the deployment and retrieval of satellites utilizing

the remote manipulator system, in extra-vehicular activities, and other

payload operations.

 

MISSION SPECIALIST ASTRONAUT

 

Mission specialist astronauts, working with the commander and pilot,

have overall responsibility for the coordination of Shuttle operations

in the areas of crew activity planning, consumables usage, and

experiment and payload operations. Mission specialists are required to

have a detailed knowledge of Shuttle systems, as well as detailed

knowledge of the operational characteristics, mission requirements and

objectives, and supporting systems and equipment for each of the

experiments to be conducted on their assigned missions. Mission

specialists will perform extra-vehicular activities, payload handling

using the remote manipulator system, and perform or assist in specific

experimental operations.

 

ASTRONAUT CANDIDATES PROGRAM

===========================

 

Basic Qualification Requirements

------------------------------------------------

 

Applicants MUST meet the following minimum requirements prior to

submitting an application.

 

MISSION SPECIALIST ASTRONAUT CANDIDATES:

 

1. Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering,

biological science, physical science or mathematics. Degree must be

followed by at least three years of related progressively responsible,

professional experience. An advanced degree is desirable and may be

substituted for part or all of the experience requirement (master's

degree = 1 year, doctoral degree = 3 years). Quality of academic

preparation is important.

 

2. Ability to pass a NASA class II space physical, which is similar to a

civilian or military class II flight physical and includes the following

specific standards:

 

Distant visual acuity:

20/150 or better uncorrected,

correctable to 20/20, each eye.

 

Blood pressure:

140/90 measured in sitting position.

 

3. Height between 58.5 and 76 inches.

 

PILOT ASTRONAUT CANDIDATES:

 

1. Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering,

biological science, physical science or mathematics. Degree must be

followed by at least three years of related progressively responsible,

professional experience. An advanced degree is desirable. Quality of

academic preparation is important.

 

2. At least 1000 hours pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Flight

test experience highly desirable.

 

3. Ability to pass a NASA Class I space physical which is similar to a

military or civilian Class I flight physical and includes the following

specific standards:

 

Distant visual acuity:

20/50 or better uncorrected

correctable to 20/20, each eye.

 

Blood pressure:

140/90 measured in sitting position.

 

4. Height between 64 and 76 inches. (1m62 to 1m93)

 

CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENTS

 

Applications for the Astronaut Candidate Program must be citizens of

the United States.

 

Note on Academic Requirements

 

Applicants for the Astronaut Candidate Program must meet the basic

education requirements for NASA engineering and scientific positions --

specifically: successful completion of standard professional curriculum

in an accredited college or university leading to at least a bachelor's

degree with major study in an appropriate field of

- engineering,

- biological science,

- physical science,

- or mathematics.

 

The following degree fields, while related to engineering and the

sciences, are not considered qualifying:

- Degrees in technology (Engineering Technology, Aviation Technology,

Medical Technology, etc.)

- Degrees in Psychology (except for Clinical Psychology, Physiological

Psychology, or Experimental Psychology which are qualifying).

- Degrees in Nursing.

- Degrees in social sciences (Geography, Anthropology, Archaeology, etc.)

- Degrees in Aviation, Aviation Management or similar fields.

 

APPICATION PROCEDURES

----------------------------------------

 

CIVILIAN

 

The application package may be obtained by writing to:

 

NASA Johnson Space Center

Astronaut Selection Office

ATTN: AHX

Houston, TX 77058

 

Civilian applications will be accepted on a continuous basis. When NASA

decides to select additional astronaut candidates, consideration will be

given only to those applications on hand on the date of decision is

made. Applications received after that date will be retained and

considered for the next selection. Applicants will be notified annually

of the opportunity to update their applications and to indicate

continued interest in being considered for the program. Those applicants

who do not update their applications annually will be dropped from

consideration, and their applications will not be retained. After the

preliminary screening of applications, additional information may be

requested for some applicants, and person listed on the application as

supervisors and references may be contacted.

 

Active Duty Military

 

Active duty military personnel must submit applications to their

respective military service and not directly to NASA. Application

procedures will be disseminated by each service.

 

SELECTION

------------------------

 

Personal interviews and thorough medical evaluations will be required

for both civilian and military applicants under final consideration.

Once final selections have been made, all applicants who were considered

will be notified of the outcome of the process.

 

Selection rosters established through this process may be used for the

selection of additional candidates during a one year period following

their establishment.

 

GENERAL PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

 

Selected applicants will be designated Astronaut Candidates and will be

assigned to the Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston,

Texas. The astronaut candidates will undergo a 1 year training and

evaluation period during which time they will be assigned technical or

scientific responsibilities allowing them to contribute substantially to

ongoing programs. They will also participate in the basic astronaut

training program which is designed to develop the knowledge and skills

required for formal mission training upon selection for a flight. Pilot

astronaut candidates will maintain proficiency in NASA aircraft during

their candidate period.

 

Applicants should be aware that selection as an astronaut candidate does

not insure selection as an astronaut. Final selection as an astronaut

will depend on satisfactory completion of the 1 year training and

evaluation period. Civilian candidates who successfully complete the

training and evaluation and are selected as astronauts will become

permanent Federal employees and will be expected to remain with NASA for

a period of at least five years. Civilian candidates who are not

selected as astronauts may be placed in other positions within NASA

depending upon Agency requirements and manpower constraints at that

time. Successful military candidates will be detailed to NASA for a

specified tour of duty.

 

NASA has an affirmative action program goal of having qualified

minorities and women among those qualified as astronaut candidates.

Therefore, qualified minorities and women are encouraged to apply.

 

PAY AND BENEFITS

----------------------

 

Civilians

 

Salaries for civilian astronaut candidates are based on the Federal

Governments General Schedule pay scales for grades GS-11 through GS-14,

and are set in accordance with each individuals academic achievements

and experience.

 

Other benefits include vacation and sick leave, a retirement plan, and

participation in group health and life insurance plans.

 

Military

 

Selected military personnel will be detailed to the Johnson Space Center

but will remain in an active duty status for pay, benefits, leave, and

other similar military matters.

 

__________________________________________________________________

 

This is a static and possibly incomplete copy of the USEnet SCI.SPACE Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document dated March 1994 (before the material was copyrighted). The official copyrighted and and up-to-date FAQ is maintained by Jon Leech (leech@cs.unc.edu) and is posted to Network News and available via the World Wide Web . KSC's Hypertext converter last run Thursday June 15 10:23:49 EDT 1995

 

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