There has been a huge resurge of interest in space recently – with missions to mars in the offing as well as the plan for NASA to land a man and woman on the moon in the next few years, interest in space has grown, and many people are once again asking questions and generally becoming more interested in what it takes to go to space.
We know that the machines that go into space are real feats of engineering – using cutting edge design and technology, from surface treatments like PTFE coating to alloys that can both weigh as little as possible and still protect those inside the spacecraft. But what do you need to actually become an astronaut and go into space yourself?
In the early days of spaceflight, astronauts were selected who had been in the military, and had experience of flying planes. It was also required that they were short enough to fit into the tiny seating area of the Mercury spacecraft, so had to be less than five foot and eleven inches in height! Nowadays, NASA has a lot of requirements that all aspiring astronauts need to meet. Qualifications are one of the first things to think about, and these need to be at least degree level in a science, maths or engineering-based subject. This should also be accompanied by work experience of at least three years in a relevant field.
As well as the academic side of this, there are also strict fitness requirements that aspiring astronauts have to meet. In order to complete the physical training, the fitness level should already be good, as it can be gruelling and challenging at times. Before going into training, NASA will examine each candidate thoroughly to make sure that they are as physically fit for the job as possible.
Once you have met all of these requirements, you will then have to complete two years of basic training before you can go anywhere near space! Becoming an astronaut is certainly not easy, yet NASA receives thousands of applications every year, so it is still something that many people aspire to. Once you have graduated, you can then be assigned to a space mission, with some going into space and others working in supporting roles in mission control.« Back