Before applying to become a NASA astronaut, make sure you meet all of the criteria. The requirements are very strict, as for all space agencies around the world. Nevertheless, the selection criteria for becoming a NASA astronaut are less restrictive than in the past. So, do you meet all the requirements to hope to become a NASA astronaut ?
Nationality, gender and age requirements to become a NASA astronaut
- You must be a U.S. citizen (or a valid double nationality) to become a NASA astronaut.
- You can be either a man or a woman.
- There is no age limit when you apply, but consider that NASA needs to consider that they will get more use out of a younger astronaut. Given NASA’s previous recruiting sessions, consider that preferred age range is between 26 to 46. Chances of passing do decrease with age.
Physical and medical requirements to become a NASA astronaut
Nowadays, astronauts spend long periods into space, so astronaut candidates must pass the NASA long-duration spaceflight physical. NASA examines physical measurements of everything on your body : eye examinations, dental examinations, MRIs, stringent heart and cardiovascular checkups, the VO2 max stress test… Several main requirements are listed below.
- Your height has to be between 62 to 75 inches (between 1,58m to 1,90m)
- There are no indications specified by NASA about the weight you must reach, but you must be in good physical shape according to you age and your gender.
- Certain things will disqualify you immediately, for example kidney stones, even if you’ve only had one once.
- Visual acuity is probably the requirement that generates the most questions for astronaut candidates. Distant and near visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20 for each eye. The use of glasses is acceptable. Corrective eye surgery operations, PKR and Lasik, are permitted. If your vision is no worse than 20/400 and correctable to 20/20 you can be considered. If your vision is no worse than 20/800 and LASIK can put you into the “20/400 correctable to 20/20” category then you are also good go. To qualify, 2 years must have passed between the surgery and your application to become an astronaut.
- Also, blood pressure must not exceed 140/90 measured in sitting position
Education to become a NASA astronaut
- Astronaut candidates must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics (STEM field).
- An advanced degree is desirable but can be replaced by experience (Master’s degree = 1 year or PhD = 3 years).
Professional experience to become a NASA astronaut
NASA requires at least three years of related professional experience obtained after degree completion OR at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft.
Other skills and requirements
- Spoken languages : perfect level in English. Other languages (russian…) are assets. Notice that during your time as an AsCan if you cannot learn Russian to an “intermediate-low” fluency, you’re disqualified. Russian is not an easy language, so get started on that now if you’re serious.
- Flying experience : welcome but not mandatory
- Psychological requirements : astronaut candidates must also have skills in leadership, teamwork and communications. Candidates must have the physical and psychological capacity to spend long periods in space.
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