Being one of the top searches of all times on Google, getting job at NASA is perhaps a dream of millions, especially the post of NASA Astronauts. And why not, the job is lit up with promises of exploring space and galaxies – far, far away; but let’s know what it takes to become a NASA astronaut.
NASA, the place which offers out of the world jobs, literally – and probably that is why they received 18,300 applications for a new batch of 12 astronauts this year. The job descripting includes missions beyond Earth, going ‘to the Moon and back’ and maybe even on a manned-mission to Mars. It might sound all dreamy, but getting the job itself takes a lot of gut, will, brain and endurance – altogether. And the actual challenge begins after getting the job. So let’s find out if we qualify for the post of NASA astronaut – it’s not easy at all.
The applicants must be at least graduates in a field of science, technology, engineering or mathematics; but post-graduation and work experience in the same field or at least 1000 hours of jet flying are mandatory parameters for selection in NASA. There are also requirements for astronauts from backgrounds such as medical doctors, vets, oceanographers, and more. And only 120 candidates go through the first stage; who are then called for a physical fitness text at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.
If you qualify all this, next up are physical requirements which include – good eyesight, height between 5ft 2 and 6ft 3 and normal blood pressure not exceeding 140/90 when seated – are some basic requirements. All this will just filter out a mass of applicants and then begins the real deal, an endurance test which needless to say, is pretty difficult and then is followed by a string of rigorous interviews. After getting selected, you are required to go through an intense 2-year training and evaluation session – which is almost like 4 years of graduation packed in 2 years, no summer breaks. During these two years, trainees are taught skills that might come handy when on an actual space mission, like – swimming in water for 10 minutes in a flight suit which is pretty heavy, and very uncomfortable to even walk; learn Scuba diving since being underwater is almost similar to being in space; riding in about 40 jet flights up and down, each day to get used to zero gravity; learning Russian to communicate with ISS; getting used to spacesuits and much, much more.
Ready for space? Well, not yet. After completion of this training, one will again be given another level of specific space training, which tells you what you would be doing in space. Translating into 2-3 extra years before heading for a 6-month space mission. After all this, you finally get ready to head to space where you will require to complete tasks, researches and hardware repairs assigned to you. It is one hell of a job, that requires on hell of dedication, strength and will to go beyond regular jobs.
But the most important thing to note is, nobody gets rich through a NASA job – as NASA restricts astronauts from making financial gains. They cannot accept gifts from aerospace companies and can’t earn royalties for writing books. NASA pays between $66,026 and $144,566 (approximately INR 44.2 lakhs to INR 1 crore) per year to astronauts who are first starting out. Yet, NASA is ranked as the first best places to work among all US Federal government jobs; because hey, it is not about money, it is never about money.