How to Become an Astronaut
Many space agencies in the world have stipulated their requirements for hiring people that are interested in working in space. In the mid nineteenth century, a doctorate in the sciences, engineering or medicine was specifically required for persons who were interested in becoming astronauts. As such, a lot of prospective individuals who nurtured the dream of going into space were unable to fulfill it. But the restrictions to qualify for becoming an astronaut in the twenty-first century have given room for many individuals to pursue this dream. In the process of selecting a worthy candidate, there are some requirements needed by many space organizations. After meeting the requirements, a candidate will undergo a series of tests before being launched into space. These requirements will be discussed below.
1. A Degree
Before you can be considered for the job, your discipline should be STEM based. This means that all applicants must have a science, technology, engineering or mathematical background before presenting other requirements. Some years ago, especially in the 1950's and beyond, those who could apply for the job were those with doctorate degrees. But that requirement has been put aside opening the door for many candidates who desire to become astronauts.
In the years, especially between the periods of 1970 and 2012, the number of applicants that applied for the job wasn’t above ten thousand. This was because most people didn’t have a doctorate. But in the year 2016, NASA had a record breaking application of over nineteen thousand. Applying for the job doesn't require a doctorate, but a doctorate will enhance your chances. With a bachelor's degree, you can still apply.
This is another requirement for becoming an astronaut. Being considered depends on the numbers of years you must have spent in your profession. The minimum numbers of years for qualifying for an application is nothing short of three years. Anything below that isn't considered. ESA and NASA share this requirement. The reason is that it is believed that, in the space of three years, you must have had enough practical demonstrations to have learned the pitfalls in your profession. So, you're nothing short than being a professional in that field. Moreover, if you are among those that are in the airfield, you must have a 1000 hour pilot-in-command of jet aircraft experience. This can come in place if you don't have the minimum of three years experience especially if you have a military background.
3. Physical Qualities
Because of the size of the spacecraft intending astronauts should fall within the height category of 5 foot, 2 inches short and 6 foot, 3 inches tall. This is because of the way spacecraft are built. They come compact in shape and astronauts must fit properly.
An applicant will pass through many medical examinations. This will involve examining the eyes, the blood pressure, and the emotional component. For the eyes, a perfect vision is not necessarily required. With a 20/20 vision with glasses or corrective surgery (if a year has passed without problems since it was performed) you can qualify you for the job. For your state of being, your blood pressure shouldn't exceed 140/90 on a sitting position. This is because of the series of mock test you will be going through, and one of such is scuba diving. Another test is microgravity. This exercise is to get your body used to a lack of gravity in space. For the emotional personality, your fright over very long heights, social interaction, and bravery will be tested in the space of two years, before you can qualify for becoming an astronaut.
You need to be proficient use in the English language. NASA and a host of western countries will require that you speak the English language fluently. So, if you speak other languages and you are on the path of becoming an astronaut, you still need to learn English. Countries in Asia such as China, Japan, India or Russia will also require that you speak the English language. Having knowledge of other languages is not necessarily required, but it can be an asset for you in the long run. Especially, Russian language may be considered a plus since many spacecrafts and parts of the International Space Station are Russian made.
If you have the degree, the experience, and you are physically healthy, you will be going through a series of tests. This is to examine your level of strength and endurance. Before you can be successfully recognized as an astronaut, you will need to read a lot of books and subject your body to different atmospheric pressures. This is one of the reasons why it takes so many years for NASA and other outer space agencies to call individuals for entries. As such, only a few applicants end up becoming astronauts after being subjected to an intense training for two years. So, if you are not prepared to go through the rigorous exercise, your chances of being selected are very slim.
On this account, if you would like to become an astronaut keep in mind that your discipline needs to be STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) based. This is the first requirement. Learn as much as you can about space and how space stations work. For starters, you should know that astronauts have different roles. For instance, a commander is responsible for directing the affairs of the spacecraft, ensuring the overall success of the mission and the safety of crew members. He or she is answerable to the person who is in charge of deciding critical stages. The commander and the pilot are the astronauts who fly the spacecraft and will ensure that its launching and landing are successful. They are the ones who have flying experience. On the other hand, mission specialists are assigned to tasks different from that of the pilots. Experts that usually fall under this category include engineers, technicians or doctors who will be assigned with specific tasks related to the mission objectives and their respective fields of experience. For example, those can be related to medical or engineering experiments.
Learn as much as you can, and start your journey to becoming an astronaut.
By Aerospace Insight