NASA Launches Search For Astronauts With The Right Stuff - InformationWeek

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11/5/2015
02:05 PM
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NASA Launches Search For Astronauts With The Right Stuff

If you've ever wanted to be an astronaut, now may be your opportunity. NASA has put out a call for manned explorers to pilot its next missions.

NASA's Apollo Archive: 10 More Breathtaking Images
NASA's Apollo Archive: 10 More Breathtaking Images
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Are you in need of a career change? Can you handle long trips? Do your childhood dreams include space exploration? If yes, then NASA wants to hear from you.

The space agency announced this week that it has begun accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates in anticipation of more manned spaceflights, including a possible manned mission to Mars.

NASA will start accept applications starting Dec. 14. That process will continue through mid-February and the agency expects to announce its new class of candidates by mid-2017.

There are four potential vessels the selected pool of applicants can apply to. These include the International Space Station (ISS), two commercial-crew spacecraft currently in development by US companies, and NASA's Orion deep-space exploration vehicle.

NASA noted applicants don't have to be a pilot or bring military experience, pointing out that the agency selects qualified astronaut candidates from a diverse pool of US citizens with a wide variety of backgrounds, from pilots and engineers to scientists and medical doctors.

However, astronaut candidates must have earned at least bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics. An advanced degree is desirable.

(Image: NASA)

(Image: NASA)

"This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden wrote Nov. 4. "Those selected for this service will fly on U.S. made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station, and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space."

In addition to passing NASA's long-duration spaceflight physical, candidates also must have at least three years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.

As part of the hiring plan, flights in Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon will facilitate adding a seventh crew member to each station mission, effectively doubling the amount of time astronauts will be able to devote to research in space.

The agency's Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, which are currently in development, are designed to launch astronauts on missions to the proving ground of lunar orbit, where NASA will learn to conduct complex operations in a deep space environment before moving on to longer duration missions for the journey to Mars.

[Read about NASA's efforts to photograph the Halloween asteroid.]

Future ISS crew members would be continuing the work advanced during the last 15 years of human habitation aboard the space station, which will include building on the regular six-month missions and this year's one-year mission, currently underway aboard the station.

The current mission is striving to achieve research breakthroughs not possible on Earth, which could enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space.

Aside from the call for fresh astronauts to pilot and staff its manned missions, NASA also recently announced plans for less complex (relatively) unmanned missions, which will also be whittled down from a list of possibilities.

The Discovery program, which requested proposals for spaceflight investigations in November 2014, has now narrowed down the possible missions from the original 27 plans. Eventually, the space agency plans to green-light one or two of these missions, which could cost about $500 million each.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2015 | 10:13:56 PM
Re: Lifetime dream of mine...
@GA you may be part of a group that's larger than you might imagine. You're probably right about that window of opportunity (to space). It's impressive you were even accepted to Ebmry.
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
11/11/2015 | 11:30:45 AM
Re: Lifetime dream of mine...
Right there with you, GAprogrammer. I doubt I could pass the rigorous physical tests they require at this stage of my life, and although I meet the other qualifications, I'm not sure I could stand to leave my family for as long as a space mission will take, or put them through the anxiety of 'what if' scenarios. But out there, there will be some very lucky, slightly younger souls, who will get to fulfill the dream of space travel. I'm tempted to put in an application though, even though I have approximately 0% change of getting through the process.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
11/7/2015 | 1:57:43 AM
Re: Exciting time to apply
The space travel itself is exicting. But if it becomes your career, it may not be that funny anymore.:-)
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
11/6/2015 | 6:36:05 PM
Re: Exciting time to apply
I think this bring memories of many kids whom one day dreamed of becoming astronauts.  With such available information, future astrontas have the ability to plan and meet all the requirements to pursue such beautifull dream.  For me, I like to have my feed on planet earth. I will pass such opportunity to others.
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
11/6/2015 | 9:53:21 AM
Lifetime dream of mine...
I recall watching the shuttle launches when I was younger and thinking that I wanted to do whatever it took to get into space (Even got accepted to Embry-Riddle Aeronatical University right out of high school!). Now that I am in my 40s and have a family, it's exciting that they are opening the application pool, but I think my window of opportunity has passed. While I can certainly imagine being able to do the jobs required, I don't think I could put my family though the trials and tribulations associated with the project if I were to be accepted.

I wonder if anyone else out there is in the same boat as I am?
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
11/6/2015 | 7:30:26 AM
Jealous...
I'd love to go in to space. Well, I think I'd be incredibly scared, but I'd love to experience the overview effect if I could. While not a lot makes me jealous about people living in America, having a more advanced space program than almost anywhere else is one of the greenest parts of it for me. I'd love to be able to apply, but unfortunately being American is something I just can't do.
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
11/5/2015 | 3:24:47 PM
Exciting time to apply
Thanks for sharing!

Wow, this might be a very good time to apply -- not for all of us. I'd love to work for NASA but I don't want to be an astronaut. Good luck to all those who might enjoy space travel.
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