How to become an astronaut

NASA is hiring — here, two astronauts tell us what it takes to join the space program. 🚀

The next class of astronauts

NASA is looking for its next class of astronauts. If you’re interested — here’s advice from former astronauts who now review applications: Mike Massimino and Nicole Stott.

Their advice

“One thing that sticks out as far as your educational background goes is you're looking for people who have a STEM education — engineering, science, math — can be a wide variety of things. I've flown in space with some traditional astronaut careers you might think of, like test pilots, and engineers, and different scientists, astronomers, things like that. But I've also flown in space with a geologist.”, Massimino tells Brut.

“I think it's really, really important that applicants know that we in the end, we want to know what kind of person are you, you know, and at a basic level, what I want to spend six months in a relatively confined space with you. Would I trust that you'll have my back when something goes wrong and things are not always going to go as planned. We go to space and we are the hands, the eyes, the ears of the scientists on the ground who have the research. We're the maintenance people for the space station. We want to see that you can operate as a crew member.”, Stott reveals.

Selected candidates undergo 2 years of intensive training in robotics, spacewalking, and International Space Station systems

Stott explains, “We do spacewalk training and this ginormous swimming pool in the 300-pound suit. That is the same suit you will do, you know, a spacewalk in in space doesn't weigh anything in space, but down on Earth, you have to be able to move around in this thing. It's pressurized. And if in that six-and-a-half hour run in the pool in that suit, you can't get through it, then you'll take yourself out of the running.”

NASA has trained 350 astronauts since the 1960s

The agency plans to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 — leading the way towards the ultimate goal of a manned mission to Mars by the 2030s. “It's been 50 years that we went. And people say, “Well, we've already been there.” Yeah, but we only went for a visit and just think about it. It's a lot different going somewhere for a weekend than going somewhere to live.”, Massimino clarifies.

The selection process is highly competitive

There were over 18,000 applicants for 11 spots on the 2017 astronaut class. But Massimino and Stott say applicants shouldn't be discouraged. “I had wanted to be an astronaut since I was a little kid. And I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon when I was six years old. But then as I got older, I thought becoming an astronaut was impossible. I was rejected from being an astronaut three times. Can you imagine? I got picked on my fourth try.”, Massimino confesses.