In 1961, Alan Shepard became the first NASA astronaut to go into space. Since then, hundreds of men and women have succeeded him and have become national heroes in the United States and around the world.
Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, John Glenn, John Young, Bruce McCandless, or more recently Peggy Whitson, Scott Kelly, Bob Behnken and Douglas Hurley to name a few… Since your childhood you have dreamed of following in the footsteps of these famous astronauts? You wonder “How to become a NASA astronaut?”
The road to becoming an astronaut is long and extremely difficult, but not impossible. We help you understand how NASA astronauts are selected and trained, and we give you advice and strategies to become an astronaut yourself. Follow the guide!
4 steps (and several years) to become a NASA astronaut
- NASA astronaut requirements
- NASA astronaut selection process
- NASA astronaut training
- Advice and strategies for becoming an astronaut
1) Make sure you meet the NASA astronaut requirements
In the History of the space conquest, the missions carried out by NASA astronauts are very varied: flights in Earth orbit, exploration of the Moon, maintenance of the Hubble space telescope, assembly of the International Space Station…
The current generation of NASA astronauts are destined to spend months in Earth orbit in the ISS, establish a lasting presence of humans on the Moon and explore the planet Mars. We live in times when the dreams of space fans come true!
The requirements listed by NASA to become an astronaut have evolved with the directions of the US space program. Professional fighter pilots are of course always appreciated by NASA recruiters to select astronauts, but this is no longer a prerequisite for becoming an astronaut.
The mix of sexes and experiences is now favored by NASA to create classes of astronauts with diverse profiles. Many diplomas and professional experiences have made their entry into the requirements to become a NASA astronaut!
Despite everything, the lengthening of the duration of space missions has pushed NASA to strengthen the medical and physical requirements on the one hand, and the psychological requirements on the other hand. As the astronauts are destined to live together for several months or years in space or on other worlds, it is essential that all crew members work together in order to accomplish the mission without a hitch. NASA seeks to recruit astronautswho are mentally and physically strong.
Now, check if you meet the NASA astronaut requirements by clicking on the button below.
2) Familiarize yourself with the NASA astronaut selection process
NASA recruits its future astronauts by following a precise and strict selection process. The stakes are enormous for NASA, which must select the astronauts who will manipulate high-tech equipment in space that costs several million or billion dollars!
Do you handle the pressure well and your enthusiasm is limitless to the idea of becoming a NASA astronaut? Have you even prepared your application and are about to send it to them? Stop! You cannot send your application to NASA to become an astronaut at any time. You have to wait for NASA to publish an astronaut selection offer.
It is a rare and highly publicized event that generates between 10,000 and 20,000 applications for each recruitment campaign. This incredible enthusiasm is good news for NASA, because it shows the enthusiasm of Americans for the US space program. But it’s also an incredible challenge that awaits recruiters: how to sort through all these applications, which all seem excellent, to find the profiles worthy of becoming a NASA astronaut?
To do this, NASA uses computerized tools and human judgment. Once the wannabe astronauts have applied for the NASA astronaut selection offer, they take an online assessment. Depending on their results, NASA will send them another online assessment. This allows NASA to screen out a considerable number of applicants without having to mobilize a large number of employees.
Applications that have passed this filter are reviewed one by one by NASA employees to determine which are the “Highly Qualified” applicants to become an astronaut. These applicants are called to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to undergo interviews, medical and physical evaluations.
At the end of this drastic selection process which lasts several months, NASA selects a handful of “Astronaut Candidates” (ASCANs) intended to be trained to become NASA astronauts!
To find out in detail the NASA astronaut selection process, the selection timeline, an astronaut job offer, examples of questions asked to applicants and much more information to answer your question “How to become a NASA astronaut”, click on the button below.
3) Find out how NASA astronauts are trained and assigned a space mission
The talented people selected by NASA at the end of the selection process become Astronaut Candidates (ASCANs). They are called by NASA to the Johnson Space Center to begin their astronaut training. ASCANs follow an intense schedule where they are observed throughout the day to determine if they have what it takes to become a NASA astronaut.
On the program: training in the operation of spacecrafts, learning Russian, survival training, team-building activities… Astronaut Candidates must excel in all the modules of the training to be able to hope to realize their dream of becoming an astronaut. NASA also assesses the ability of ASCANs to resist stress, manage the unexpected, collaborate, etc.
The training is very difficult, but the game is worth the effort! Astronaut Candidates who successfully pass the training officially become NASA astronauts. The new “class of astronauts” is presented to the media, the biography of each member is dissected by space enthusiasts in the United States and around the world… It’s nice, but as long as they have not been to space, astronauts can not be satisfied!
NASA can now assign a space mission to its new astronauts. The lucky ones return once again to the Johnson Space Center in Houston where they undergo intensive training specific to the space mission. They accurately repeat the actions they will perform during their mission to operate spacecraft, perform scientific experiments, etc.
If you want to know in detail the content and schedule of NASA astronaut training and assignment to a mission, we have created a dedicated page accessible by clicking on the button below.
4) Subscribe to our free program “Mission: Astronaut”
Have you carefully read this page as well as the pages which detail the requirements, the selection process and the training of NASA astronauts? Do you think you have what it takes to be a NASA (or another space agency) astronaut but don’t know where to start? We invite you to follow our free program “Mission: Astronaut”. You will discover strategies and advice to make your dream come true! To find out more, click on the button below.
Image Credits: NASA/SpaceX