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Calling All Explorers: NASA Opens Doors for Astronaut Applications

NASA is looking for a new generation of explorers to join their ranks and venture further into space than ever before.  

The agency recently announced an open call for astronaut candidates, with applications due by April 2nd.  Those selected will have the opportunity to explore the Moon, including the lunar south pole for the first time, and may even be part of the first crewed mission to Mars.

Qualifications for STEM Job Applicants

The requirements are rigorous. Applicants must be US citizens with a master’s degree in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math), at least three years of related professional experience, and pass a stringent physical exam.

Pilots can qualify with 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time and residency can count towards experience for medical doctors. More details can be found on NASA’s website.

This is a highly competitive opportunity.  In 2021, over 12,000 people applied, and only 10 were ultimately chosen.  

Those selected will undergo a challenging 2.5 year training program that includes mastering spacewalking, operating the International Space Station, flying jet aircraft, and controlling robotic arms.

Since the first astronaut selection in 1959, NASA has recruited 360 people.  These explorers have come from diverse backgrounds, with nearly all flying in space at some point in their careers.

The future for astronauts is bright.  Potential missions include flights to the Moon or a lunar space station as part of the Artemis program, long-duration stays on the International Space Station, and even crewed missions to Mars.  

Astronauts may also fly on a variety of spacecraft built by different companies, including SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Starship, Boeing’s Starliner, Russia’s Soyuz, and Blue Origin’s Blue Moon.

While flying missions is a thrilling part of the job, it’s only a portion of an astronaut’s career.  A significant amount of time is spent supporting other missions from the ground or through development projects.

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Beyond NASA: Alternative Paths to Space Exploration

NASA is looking for a new generation of explorers to join their ranks and venture further into space than ever before.

If you don’t meet NASA’s requirements, there are still opportunities to explore space.  Private companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin offer brief suborbital space flights, and Axiom Space sends commercial astronauts to the International Space Station.  

Additionally, other space agencies involved in Artemis and the ISS may have their own astronaut recruitment programs.

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