What does it take to be an astronaut? Here are NASA’s main requirements

If you ever dreamed of being an astronaut as a kid, then you know that it’s no easy feat — here are NASA’s requirements for the job.

The US space agency has revealed on its website all of the requirements that need to be met by someone before they have a shot at going to space.

What does an astronaut do?

Before we get into what it takes to be an astronaut, here’s what an astronaut actually does.

An astronaut’s role and responsibilities can range anywhere from crewing a spacecraft to working as a scientist on the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA astronauts specifically do a lot of research and conduct hands-on experiments on the ISS — a space laboratory that orbits Earth.

Some of these experiments include researching cancer, the human body, and life in space.

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NASA has also long shared its ambitions to send astronauts to Mars, which would be an unimaginable experience for the lucky chosen few.

More recently than that, though, the aeronautical agency is planning to send the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024.

That next scientist in space could be you – if you meet the criteria, that is.

What does it take to be an astronaut

The requirements to be a NASA astronaut have changed over the years to better align with the agency’s mission and values.

As it stands, these are the requirements.

First, a potential candidate must be a US citizen.

They also have to have a master’s degree in a STEM field from an accredited institution – acceptable degrees include engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics.

A potential NASA astronaut candidate must be a US citizen.
Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

On top of that, a potential candidate has to have at least two years of related professional experience after completing their degree, or “at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft,” the agency noted.

NASA also emphasized the types of characteristics it’s looking for in its astronauts, including a skilled leader, a good communicator, and a good collaborator.

Physical requirements

It’s not enough to simply be educated to be an astronaut, though, a candidate also has to be able to withstand the physical pressure of being in space.

On that note, a person must be extremely healthy and able to pass the NASA long-duration flight astronaut physical, which tests agility, body coordination, eye coordination, and vision.

Furthermore, NASA astronaut positions require a candidate to be of particular height and weight.

NASA astronauts must be a certain height and weight to qualify.
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To be a commander or pilot astronaut, you need to be 158cm to 190cm tall, and to be a mission specialist you need to be between 149cm to 193cm.

In general, astronauts should weigh between 50 and 95 kilograms (110 and 209 pounds) and measure between 149.5cm and 190.5cm.

The selection process

If a person meets all the aforementioned requirements, their application gets sent to NASA’s Astronaut Selection Board for review.

The chances of getting chosen are slim as the agency is inundated with tens of thousands of applications every year (it is the dream job for most, after all).

If successfully picked from the crowd, the board then invites you, along with a small group of the most highly qualified candidates, for interviews at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Kennedy Space Center.
NASA receives tens of thousands of astronaut applications every year.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

About half of that group is then invited back for a second interview, and then from those candidates, a select few are welcomed back for a two-year training course.

The course includes basic astronaut skills like spacewalking, operating the space station, flying jet planes, and controlling a robotic arm.

After completing basic training, astronauts then get the opportunity to go where very few have gone: Deep space.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.

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