credit Image:NASA on The Commons | Flickr
Calling all space nerds: NASA is hiring.
From Dec. 14 through February 2016, NASA will be accepting applications for its latest class of astronauts. According to the job posting on the NASA site, the government agency “accepts applications for the position of Astronaut Candidate on an as needed basis,” and is opening up the process for the first time since 2012.
A press release about the application process noted that this class of astronauts could look forward to missions that “will launch once again from the Space Coast of Florida on American-made commercial spacecraft, and carry out deep-space exploration missions that will advance a future human mission to Mars,” in addition to continuing work on the International Space Station.
So what exactly is NASA looking for in a new astronaut? Applicants must be US citizens or dual citizens and have a bachelor’s degree in biological science, engineering, mathematics or physical science from an accredited college or university. With those credentials, candidates must have three years of related professional experience, but that could take in graduate work, like a masters or PhD, teaching at the K-12 level or “at least 1,000 pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.”
Candidates also have to be able to pass NASA’s long-duration astronaut physical and have 20/20 vision in each eye. Once candidates are selected, they are evaluated for two years, and even after that time, are not guaranteed a spot in the astronaut corps. Candidates will be taught how to work the systems on the International Space Station and other spacecrafts, as well as learn about robotics and to speak Russian, among other tasks.
NASA got over 6,300 applications for its 2013 Astronaut Candidate class and ultimately selected eight people — four women and four men — to train for potential missions “to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars.” There are currently 47 active members of the astronaut corps. However, once you submit your application, you’re going to have to play the waiting game — after a rigorous interview process, NASA will announce the 2015 class in August 2017.