Astronauts have a certain reputation. They're not just the best, they're the best of the best of the best. Since the 1960s, NASA has hired only 350 people to helm its insanely expensive space missions, and these are among the most impressive humans you'll find on (or off) the planet.
Currently, there are 48 active astronauts on staff, and NASA is looking to expand that team as part of its Artemis missions to put the first woman, and the next men, on the Moon, by sometime around 2024, with a view to having sustainable commercial and scientific exploration happening regularly on the lunar surface by 2028. These missions themselves are a stepping stone to future manned Mars voyages.
So from March 2, NASA will be taking applications for new astronauts, and these are sure to be some of the most hotly contested gigs America has ever seen. Here's what you'll need to get started:
- United States Citizenship
- A Master's degree in STEM, or two years of work towards a Ph.D in a related STEM field, or a doctorate of medicine or osteopathic medicine, or completion of a nationally recognized test pilot program
- Two years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft
In the past, astronauts have also had to fit the vehicles they're applying to pilot, as well as being able to get into a space suit, which has meant only candidates between 5'2" and 6'3" (1.57-1.9 m) and of, shall we say, standard build, could apply.
So, if you're still standing after that list of requirements, you might just be among the chosen few. Your parents, no matter what their background, will be forced to be proud. You will have the upper hand in any smalltalk interaction for the rest of your life. Your children ... well, your children will probably still think you're a dork. But you will get to look down on our colossal, shimmering blue/green/brown/white marble from a perspective reserved for only the greatest achievers.
Applications will open online on March 2nd at www.usajobs.gov. Give us a wave from up there, will ya?