Education. NASA says that “quality of academic preparation is important,” so the agency is looking for a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics from an accredited institution.
According to the announcement, “Applicants for the Astronaut Candidate Program must meet the basic education requirements for NASA engineering and scientific positions, specifically: successful completion of standard professional curriculum in an accredited college or university leading to at least a bachelor’s degree with major study in an appropriate field of engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics.”
Unfortunately, NASA is very particular about the degrees you can have to qualify for the program. Based on the announcement, degrees in technology, psychology, nursing, exercise physiology, social sciences or aviation, aviation management or similar fields are not considered qualifying. Darn!
A degree followed by at least three years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience. A master’s degree equals one year of experience, and a doctoral degree equals three years of experience. Teaching experience, including experience at the K-12 levels, is considered qualifying experience.
NASA has always been a great advocate of education for the simple reason that the children of today are the astronauts of tomorrow. As you can see in the vacancy announcement, NASA has always encouraged elementary and high school educators to apply to become an astronaut. Also, NASA has an entire education office that reaches out to children and teenagers to educate them about NASA, space travel and research and encourage them to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics. If you become an astronaut, your job is not just to go out in space but also to go into the classrooms of America. You can find out more about NASA’s education programs at www.nasa.gov/offices/education/about/index.html.
Medical and physical qualifications. NASA says you have to have the ability to pass the NASA long-duration space flight physical, which includes the following requirements: Distant and near visual acuity (must be correctable to 20/20, each eye); blood pressure not to exceed 140/90 measured in a sitting position; standing height between 62 and 75 inches.
There are few vacancies open and I don’t see opportunities like this often, so if you fit the qualifications and are looking for the adventure and honor of serving your country by going into space and conducting or supporting critical research, this may be what you have been looking for. Keep in mind that this position closes Jan. 27, so if you are interested in applying you need to get your application in immediately. If you have any questions, there is a point of contact on the vacancy announcement who I am sure will be happy to answer them. You can find more information at astronauts.nasa.gov.
Astronaut is not the only position NASA is hiring for. To get people in space and do the work of research and exploration takes a great number of people to support the mission. Last I looked, NASA needed to fill positions that included attorney, equal employment manager, research physical scientists, contract specialists, aerospace engineers, research astrophysicists and medical officers. So even if you don’t become an astronaut, you can join the team. You can find out more at nasapeople.nasa.gov.