When you commit yourself to be an astronaut you are taking up a tremendous task. Astronaut candidates tend to only be selected in their 30s or 40s even, many leave behind their already prestigious careers with the chance of being an astronaut and having to start at the bottom of the career ladder once again. There is not even a guarantee that you will make it into space and training is extremely intense.
Even with all those barriers over 18,000 Americans compete in NASA’s astronaut selection trials every year. But the requirements for even making it to that selection process are not easy at all, some of the requirements are extremely surprising. Not only do you need to be in top physical shape, but it also demands a technical skill to be able to understand space stations and spacecraft.
As a basic requirement, you need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics. And with that bachelor’s degree, you need to have at least three years of professional experience. Candidates, of course, need to pass NASA’s physical test but they also need to hold down many other skills.
Astronauts must be fully licensed scuba divers and also have wilderness survival experience. Not only that but there is a requirement to be fluent in other languages such as Russian, to ensure space stations joint ventures are a success. And then astronauts also need a track record of leadership skills, to show they will not panic during stressful situations.
Even during the candidate stage, they will have two years of basic training, in fact, most of their time is spent training and supporting other missions. Only a small percentage of astronauts end up traveling into space. When they do graduate, they may be assigned to an ongoing space mission or end up in technical roles in the Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Roles could be things such as helping and supporting space engineers create the tools that will be used on future spacecraft and missions.