The competition has never been stiffer for aspiring astronauts. According to The Washington Post, 18,300 individuals answered NASA's recent call for applicants, beating the previous record of 8000 prospective space voyagers in 1978. There are only 14 spots, meaning you have a .08 percent shot of going into space if you submitted your materials this past year.
In 2012, only 6300 people applied to go into space. The Post attributes the skyrocketing application rate to NASA’s star-studded social media presence, their New Horizons mission to Pluto, and their marketing efforts for the film The Martian (2015). Meanwhile, TechCrunch points out that the number of college graduates with STEM degrees has steadily increased over the years. A degree in a STEM field is one of the many requirements for a spot on NASA's squad. Applicants should also have three years work experience or 1000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft, U.S. citizenship, and a passing grade on a basic flight qualification physical.
Plus, thanks to the Internet, it was easier than ever to hear about NASA's call for new astronauts and decide to apply. Many applicants likely didn’t meet the eligibility requirements, and won’t make the cut to move forward with the process. The New York Times reports that only 120 applicants will be invited to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for interviews. Then in mid-2017, NASA will officially reveal the new crew to the world.
[h/t The Washington Post]