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After Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon in 1969, many kids started dreaming about becoming astronauts. Like any other career path, the journey requires many stages, with hard work being the most crucial.

Understanding the requirements to become an astronaut is crucial since this profession is highly competitive. From thousands of applicants, minimal spots are filled. The entire selection process is like a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle.

Even so, being more aware and prepared for what you need to accomplish is better. Despite the rigorous selection, this is a fulfilling career path that most people would willingly try. This is a general guide on how one can become an astronaut.

Astronauts are highly trained experts that you see in outer space. They join space programs conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA. They’re a government organization that funds and deploys astronauts for particular missions boarding a spacecraft.

Things to Consider for an astronaut career path

NASA astronauts typically need to have a master’s degree. However, the rules have been changed, and even civilian teachers can join missions, including doctors, journalists, etc. Recently, commercial astronauts became common due to privately funded space missions.

It may seem fascinating to think about going to the moon and seeing stars in real life, but the means to get there is far from easy. Not to mention the heavy paperwork you must complete; otherwise, being shortlisted won’t happen.

A fictional book could shed light on some of the things that astronauts do. ‘Moon Luck‘ by Scott Harral is a story of astronauts living on the moon. The book frequently mentions their daily routine, missions, and interactions. It gives you a good glimpse of an astronaut’s life.

General requirements

By following these NASA-indicated requirements, you can figure out better how to be a potential candidate:

  • U.S. Citizenship
  • A master’s degree in any S.T.E.M. field
  • Pass the flight examination
  • Earn 1,000 hours of flight training

Meeting each of the listed requirements may only be the tip of the iceberg, but they can propel you to a good start in the selection process. Flight maneuvering experience is crucial when aspiring to be a NASA astronaut. It helps ensure that you understand how spacecraft work and also serves as a safety precaution.

Earning a relevant degree

Whether it’s a government or civilian profession, they generally need a master’s degree. But astronauts, in particular, must earn them, as it is an extra step beyond formal higher education. After earning a bachelor’s degree, a master’s can be taken. A doctorate is an expandable and optional route if you want to take it up a notch in educational attainment.

But if you’re gunning for an astronaut career, here are relevant degrees that require further specialization:

  • Aeronautics
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Astronomy
  • Astrobiology
  • General science

Various military branches offer countless educational opportunities. To qualify for an astronaut career, you must pick the one that will benefit you the most.

Physical fitness

While it is a given that academic proficiency is needed to become an astronaut, physical prowess is also required. An astronaut must prioritize their health, especially staying fit at all times. If you’re an aspiring astronaut, it’s best to align your daily routine appropriately for the job.

By keeping yourself physically fit, you’ll be able to meet thy physical demands of being an astronaut, not to mention the rigorous physical training during the selection process. Most candidates hardly make it due to the overwhelming exercises and straining evaluations of their bodies.

Prepare a long-term regimen to make it through the complicated process. It will ultimately help you prepare better for air pressure changes, oxygen levels, and the force of gravity.

Flight training

One of the requirements is to incur 1,000 hours of flight training before becoming a NASA astronaut. Maneuvering a spacecraft comes with intense expertise, precision, and deep comprehension of aerodynamics.

A qualified astronaut must also be well-versed in mechanical operations, including weather patterns. A good alternative would be to apply for flight training in the air force. You can also earn those hours by flying a commercial or private aircraft.

Applying for the candidate selection process

After meeting the physical, educational, and flight experience requirements, it’s time for you to join the candidate selection held by NASA. The usual time would take 60 days, particularly the review process. It’s a long waiting game compared to other programs.

NASA is tasked to carefully handpick the most qualified individuals who are next in contributing significantly to the world. As it is a cutthroat process, the rewards of attaining the job are worth it. All credentials and experience aside, give it your best shot as you jumpstart your NASA astronaut journey.