When we were young -- heck, many of us adults-- dream about going into outer space as a NASA astronaut. But, not many us know what is really takes to become one. So, as a company that makes Astronaut Foods we thought it would be fun to breakdown the process of becoming a space-traveling astronaut.
Hey, that doesn't sound too difficult right? Ooofff, think again. This career path is not for the faint of heart and the ways in which you will need to prove yourself worthy of being a NASA astronaut can be a bit daunting.
Not only is NASA looking for those to meet their basic requirements, but they are looking for candidates who will well exceed their expectations. For instance, if you want to be a NASA astronaut you’ll want to aim to achieve higher degrees of education like a Master's or Doctoral degree from a well accredited institution, have more than 3+ years of experience in your related professional field, and be able to prove that you are very physically fit and agile, as the competition is extremely high.
NASA reviews a whopping 18,300 Astronaut applications a year! But Astronauts are only selected on an as needed basis, so of those applications, NASA will only select a handful of highly qualified individuals to be interviewed at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. As part of the interview process, interviewees must undergo an extensive physical fitness test, which tackles eye and body coordination. Some of the passing requirements include but are not limited to: having 20/20 vision, being relatively fit, having a heart rate that doesn't exceed 140/90 in a seated position, and having a standing height of 62-75 inches. Then only half of those selected are invited back for second interviews from which NASA chooses their astronaut candidates! These candidates go right into a rigorous astronaut training program where they learn the basics such as spacewalking, operating the space station, jet planes and more.
NASA'S astronaut training program can take up to two years to complete in order for one to become a trained, qualified astronaut. Candidates are required to complete military water survival, and become SCUBA qualified to prepare for spacewalking. As a result, the astronauts in training must pass a swimming test in their first month to demonstrate their ability to swim 3 lengths of a 25- meter pool (without stopping), swim 3 lengths of a pool in a flight suit and sneakers without stopping, and lastly, tread water for 10 minutes while also wearing a flight suit. Other rigorous training components include being exposed to high and low atmospheric pressure in altitude chambers, is well as exposure to microgravity during flights to learn how to deal with emergencies in extreme conditions.
If astronaut candidates successfully pass NASA'S training program, then they are fit to blast- off into space and experience the real magic of the profession-- like eating Astronaut Ice Cream on a spacecraft, while floating with no gravity, looking down on planet Earth in awe. Talk about dessert with a view! If you are an inspiring astronaut, or your kids dream of being in this profession, we hope that you get after it! Just know that you need to buckle-up your space-boot straps and get ready for the wild ride that this astronaut career entails.