There are many people including small kids and teens who desires of being an astronaut. But only a very few have an idea of how to become one. The procedures and preparations regarding an astronaut candidate program are quite simple. Understanding and acting according to the requirements of the program is the key to the dreams of being a successful astronaut.
The Basic Requirements for Selection
1. Basic Qualification
A citizen, military personnel, or student who wishes to become an astronaut must have a bachelor degree from a reputed institution in any field of Engineering, Mathematics, and/or Science. Aeronautical engineering, applied science and astronomy are all well qualified degree programs. The field of study depends on the wish of the student and the needs of the space program. He or she should have a keen interest in the subject he or she has chosen. Quality grades and good aptitude skills are also required besides the basic certification. Higher the qualifications, the better the chance of being selected. Having a Master's degree or Doctorate degree also adds to the chances. The selection panels cross checks a person’s background in terms of education. So courses must be taken from a certified university or institution.
2. Mandatory work experiences
A person with a needed degree must have a work experience in a professional field for a minimum of 3 years or 1000 hours of pilot in command in jet aircraft if he is from a military background. Those having a Master's or Doctorate degrees require only a professional working experience of 1 year. The flying experience is not a must for civilians.
3. Medical requirements
The medical requirements include a clear vision in both the eyes. The distant and the near vision for both the eyes must be 20/20. Those who have undergone any of the latest eye surgeries including the laser surgery cannot be submitted to the selection panel until one year has passed after the surgery. Blood pressure must be below the range of 140/90. There must be no physical impairments and the appropriate height must be within 62 to 75 inches when standing.
4. Age restrictions
There are no particular age restrictions. Astronauts ranging from various ages have been selected earlier and so the age factor is not at all considered as a matter of importance.
5. Matter of citizenship
Any person can apply for the astronaut candidate program but his country must have a specialized space agency such as NASA in The United States. Many space agencies allow candidates of other nationalities to join. They are considered as international astronauts.
How to apply for the selection?
Even with the basic qualification being satisfied, it is important that any person who wishes to join for an astronaut candidate program must go through a proper channel in order to become selected so as to attend the training program conducted by the space agency.
Let’s discuss more about the selection procedure. One must submit a completed resume with all updated matter regarding their education. All qualifications must be mentioned clearly in the resume.
The updated resume must be uploaded in any of the websites of the NASA space agencies. If any vacancy is available, the space agency calls upon the candidate for a selection interview.
Candidates from both civilian and military sectors can apply for the selection procedure. Nowadays, special quota has been assigned for ladies and minorities too.
Very stringent screening is involved in selection and it is here that the candidate must utilize his entire learning, the knowledge he gained from school and colleges. Tough preparation for the selection interview must be carried out by the candidate in order for him to tackle it. The officials check the capability of the candidate and also test their skills in every possible manner.
There would be continuous personal interviews, aptitude tests, group discussions, objective type written exams and medical tests as a part of the selection process. The selection would be carried out at different levels. The final selected candidates will be informed. Further checking of all the certificates and proofs will also be carried out. The entire process of selection is really hectic. But as said before, preparation for exams and the determination along with the will power can make anyone successful in these selection procedures.
Once selected, the applicant would be asked to attend an astronaut candidate training program. Usually candidates are selected in separate batches. The selected candidates can earn high salaries and other benefits for training too.
Astronaut Candidate Program
The astronaut candidate program is mainly intended to develop and improve the skills of the selected candidates further through continuous training programs. The astronauts have to carry out all the on-orbit operations, maintenance jobs, robotics task and other experiments on future missions. So the training provided by the NASA to its selected candidates involves ways to make them highly efficient in executing their tasks and duties of an astronaut.
The training duration lasts for a minimum of 2 years where they are taught to learn about future missions as an assistant. Special training is provided in all departments to understand and succeed with all matters regarding the mission of the space agency.
Training requires traveling to other countries, to carry out researches and developments. The training program is indeed very tough. Training for flying and underwater diving and swimming test will be carried out.
Final selection as an astronaut depends on the performance of training. Good performance showed in these training programs results in selection. So the candidate must give their maximum output to reach the destination.
The ones who are not selected as astronaut gets other jobs within the space agency as assistants to the astronauts.
After the successful completion of training and selection, the selected astronauts would be considered as a permanent employee with a huge salary and great benefits.
The ways of being an astronaut are simple and straight. The actual process is very tough. The determination to succeed depends upon the performance of each individual and his temperament to tackle tough situations. There are many children who aspire of becoming an astronaut. Their wishes can be fulfilled by doing the basics right. Basic qualifications, medical requirements and longer time preparations can make them reach their desired target.
If you want to become an astronaut you must stay in school and make great grades. Learn the sciences and look into the program more. NASA even will help pay for college and training to qualified people. Go where not very many men (and women) have gone before.
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