NASA Opens Astronaut Applications to the Public


If you hold a master's degree in a STEM field, are comfortable with tight spaces, and need a new job, NASA has an opportunity for you. As reports, the space agency recently posted an ad seeking astronauts on USAJobs, and anyone can apply—as long as you meet the basic requirements.

Astronauts make between $104,898 to $161,141 a year performing such duties as conducting operations on the International Space Station and testing new spacecraft. To land the prestigious gig, candidates must first complete a painstaking application process.

NASA asks anyone interested in becoming an astronaut to make sure they meet the basic qualifications before they apply. Candidates should carry a master's degree in a discipline of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Exceptions can be made for people who lack a master's degree but can show two years of work toward a STEM Ph.D. program, completion of a doctor of medicine degree, or completion of a nationally or internationally recognized test pilot school program (for this last one, a bachelor's degree in STEM may also be required).

Candidates should also have real-world experience beyond their academic career. For people with degrees in STEM or flight testing, NASA is looking for at least two years of professional work, and for pilots, it wants at least 1000 hours command-piloting high-performance aircraft.

Meeting these standards is just the first hurdle candidates must clear. If they make it through the initial round, potential astronauts will be asked to pass a NASA long-duration spaceflight physical, undergo a psychiatric examination, and be assessed on their leadership and problem-solving skills. After about a year of this, NASA will announce its final hiring decisions sometime in mid-2021. Fair warning, the competition will be tough: The last time NASA opened its astronaut applications to the public, it selected just 12 people out of 18,300 candidates.

The online application went live on USAJobs on March 2, and it will be open through March 31. If you're not sure if you're right for the job, try taking this astronaut aptitude test before applying for the real thing.