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Not everyone can become an astronaut. The profession requires a lot of determination and hard work. It involves risk-taking, independence, and a deep sense of purpose for the job they have chosen. Apart from these personality traits, you also need strong analytical and logical knowledge to become an astronaut. Following is a guide on how to become an astronaut, the skills you need, and the courses you can choose.
What do astronauts do?
Astronauts are integral gears driving scientific research regarding space. They have to work in tandem with people from different parts of the globe to create instruments and vehicles that can create a secure environment to house them while conducting research in space and exploring the universe’s elements.
Astronauts are researchers on the cutting edge of biological and material research. Their research focuses mainly on developing solutions that can preserve life on our planet. They survey the Earth in space stations and record the changes that occur at 90 minutes intervals.
Space stations are orbiting laboratories with suitable conditions for astronauts to conduct approximately 250 research studies during a 6-month mission. Being an astronaut is challenging the limits of technology and inventing technology that transcends the boundaries known to humans for scientific advancement.
When compelled into extreme conditions, astronauts need to experiment and be creative even when performing simple tasks. The skills of an astronaut are not useful in space missions. When they are not working in space, they are liable to partake in ground missions which include designing, engineering, preparing, training, etc.
Skills you need to become an astronaut
The ability to cooperate with colleagues and work in a team is one of the most important skills that qualify you for NASA. Astronauts have to constantly collaborate with several people, and the inability to showcase teamwork may severely decrease your chances of getting your dream job.
Here are some important skills that aspiring astronauts need to cultivate –
- Communication – Space expeditions require a team. Therefore, you must be able to communicate with your team members effectively.
- Quick learning – Learning new skills quickly and having a creative mind can take you far in any field.
- Be able to take criticism – Being grounded and willing to work on constructive criticism is an essential skill if you want to be a successful astronaut. NASA is known to reject candidates portraying arrogance due to this very reason.
How to become an astronaut for NASA
NASA is the dream of anyone who aspires to become an astronaut. However, getting into NASA is not an easy task, much like any other space organization. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning on applying for a position at NASA –
- You must be a citizen of the USA.
- A bachelor’s degree in the mentioned courses is a must – physics, engineering, biology, computer science, or mathematics.
- You must have a minimum score of 65% in your bachelor’s course.
- You need to gain professional expertise by working for at least 3 years before applying to NASA.
- Apart from the educational qualifications, NASA also conducts thorough medical and physical checks. These fields need to be cleared for you to be taken under consideration. Since an astronaut’s job is layered with risk, the astronaut has to be in a fit condition to overcome the obstacles.
Courses you can take
To become an astronaut, the top aeronautical engineering courses that you can pursue are –
- B.Tech space technology
- B.Tech aeronautical engineering
- M.Tech aeronautical engineering
Being an astronaut may be difficult, but it is not impossible. It takes effort, but if space is something that you dream of and love, then the effort will be worth it. Choosing a challenging career like this can be demanding; however, you can build a very successful career in this field with determination and persistence.
- Ensure that you possess the citizenship of the country where you’re applying for an astronaut position
- To pursue a career in this field, you must have a degree in aeronautics or science, in which you need to have a minimum score of 65%.
You need to have work experience in a related field before applying. Please check the requirements to know how many years of work experience you need.
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Q1. What’s the average yearly salary for an astronaut?
Answer – As per NASA, civilian astronauts are offered a salary grade ranging from GS-11 to GS-14. The starting pay begins at an estimated $66,000 per annum, whereas experienced astronauts receive $144,566 or more yearly.
Q2. Are there alternative careers that I apply for at space organizations?
Answer – Space organizations comprise a massive team and need people for all the different job roles. Some alternative positions you can apply for are –
- Mechanical engineer
- Aerospace engineer
- Airplane pilot
- Biomedical engineers
These are some roles you can apply for if you love space but don’t want to be an astronaut.
Q3. How long does it take to be an astronaut post-joining?
Answer – To qualify for the level of a professional astronaut, you will have to undergo training for 2 years. In these 2 years, astronauts are expected to take part in the fundamental Astronaut Candidate training program. This program is devised to induce candidates’ skills needed to perform during formal mission training once they are assigned to a space mission.