the universe is waiting for us.. | Become an Astronaut

What could be more inspiring than the possibility of becoming an astronaut? While it may seem like a distant goal, there's no good reason why you shouldn't aim for the stars. Human space travel is only set to increase in the future, which is great news for aspiring astronauts! Not only that but simply by following a wannabe astronaut trajectory will open up possibilities within the rest of the space industry as well. It's an exciting time to stay motivated and take action!


How do I become an Astronaut?

The requirements to become an astronaut change with the goals and missions of those organisations sending astronauts into space, however there are some universal skills that are required in astronaut candidates, these include: Leadership, Teamwork, Communication, Problem solving, Technical Ability, Physical Fitness and Adaptability. Although there are courses available to assist in developing these expertise, you can also practice these skills during your everyday life. As part of any astronaut application you'll need to demonstrate evidence where you have successfully applied all of these, be sure to take opportunities that come your way which you can use as evidence of your proficiency, relevant, quality, written feedback from experienced people/organisations you've worked with can be a good way to support your evidence, keep this in mind and don't be afraid to ask for such feedback.

Education / Qualifications

It will be necessary for astronaut candidates to come from a professional background, having successfully gained relevant qualifications at degree level in technical/scientific disciplines. Experience in aircraft operations (particularly pilot/flight engineer) and computer systems/applications are distinct advantages. The wider the knowledge and skills you have the better. It is often said that successful astronaut applicants are excellent generalists with multi-discipline experience supporting their ability to successfully adapt to challenges.


The UK Government National Careers Service website says:
As of 26/09/2019 the website states:
You can apply for astronaut training with the European Astronaut Corps or with NASA.

You need to be between 27 and 37 years old and able to speak English fluently. It'll be helpful if you can speak basic Russian because it's used along with English on the International Space Station.

You'll have an advantage if you're a pilot with at least 1,000 hours of flying experience in a high performance aircraft like a fighter jet.

You'll also need a degree and a postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject like:

  • biology, chemistry or physics
  • engineering
  • medicine
  • aeronautics
  • mathematics

You must hold US citizenship or US dual-citizenship to become an astronaut with NASA.

You'll need:

  • the ability to use your judgement and make decisions
  • the ability to operate and control equipment
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • leadership skills
  • observation and recording skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

You'll need to:

  • pass a medical check
  • take a colour vision test
  • have a good level of fitness

Your duties could include:

  • cleaning and testing air filters and air quality
  • repairing, maintaining and testing oxygen production systems
  • cleaning and maintaining water systems and testing for bacterial growth
  • packaging and disposing of waste
  • replacing worn or broken parts on the spacecraft
  • installing or repairing scientific instruments and equipment
  • setting up, carrying out and monitoring experiments
  • taking samples, like blood, from astronauts to assess their health
  • communicating with Earth by satellite to transfer data and send reports

You could work at a training centre.

Your working environment may be travelling often and spending nights away from home, physically and emotionally demanding and cramped.

You’ll have several years’ training before you’re ready to be selected for a mission. It may take you years to be selected for a space flight. Once you’re selected, you’ll get mission specific training. Your flight in space could last between 6 months and a year.

With experience you could be selected for other missions. You could also move into management, teaching, research or set up your own consultancy business.

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NASA requirements
The NASA website currently states:

Astronaut requirements have changed with NASA's goals and missions. A pilot's license and engineering experience is still one route a person could take to becoming an astronaut, but it’s no longer the only one. Today, to be considered for an astronaut position, U.S. citizens must meet the following qualifications:

1. A bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics.
2. At least three years of related professional experience obtained after degree completion OR at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft.
3. The ability to pass the NASA long-duration astronaut physical. Distant and near visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20 for each eye. The use of glasses is acceptable.

Astronaut candidates must also have skills in leadership, teamwork and communications.

NASA's Astronaut Selection Board reviews the applications (a record-breaking 18,300 in 2016) and assesses each candidate's qualifications. The board then invites about 120 of the most highly qualified candidates to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, for interviews. Of those interviewed, about half are invited back for a second round. Once the final astronauts are selected, they must complete a two-year training period.

With NASA's plans for the future of exploration, new astronauts will fly farther into space than ever before on lunar missions and may be the first to fly on to Mars.

Last Updated: Aug. 7, 2017 Editor: Flint Wild

Visit the NASA website for the latest advice.


ESA requirements
The ESA website currently states:

Watch the video and discover everything from who's part of the European Astronaut Corps, what a typical selection campaign looks like, and what 'on the job' training new astronauts get. Read about the last astronaut selection here, and see what kind of testing the aspiring astronauts of the last selection had to go through here.

Video released: 23/11/2011

Visit the ESA website for the latest advice.

Other useful links for aspiring astronauts:

Blue Abyss

ESA (European Space Agency)

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

STEM Learning (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)

Space Universities Network

UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service)

UKSEDS (UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space)

UK Space Agency

Find a list of other space-related employers here.