Reach for the Stars: NASA to Open Astronaut Applications in March

Applicants must be United States citizens and have a master’s degree in engineering, biological science, mathematics or another STEM-related field, among other qualifications

AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool

What to Know

  • Applications will be available on from March 2 to 31.
  • To be elligible for selection, an applicant, who must be a U.S. citizen, needs a master's degree in a STEM field or another accepted level of education.
  • Applicants must also meet other qualifications and take an online assessment, which may take up to two hours to complete.

Those who dreamed of being an astronaut as a child may soon have their chance to reach for the stars, according to NASA, which will accept applications in March for its next class of astronauts.

The applications will be available on the federal government’s employment website from March 2 to 31. The new wave of Artemis Generation astronauts is expected to be selected in mid-2021, joining the ranks of the candidates NASA has chosen to train since it began manned missions in the 1960s.

There are currently 48 astronauts in the active astronaut corps.

"We're celebrating our 20th year of continuous presence aboard the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit this year, and we're on the verge of sending the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a news release. "For the handful of highly talented women and men we will hire to join our diverse astronaut corps, it’s an incredible time in human spaceflight to be an astronaut."

Not everyone is eligible for the opportunity, however. Applicants must be United States citizens and have a master’s degree in engineering, biological science, mathematics or another STEM-related field. The agency cautioned that it does not consider some related degrees, such as Aviation Technology and Nursing, as qualifying.

The agency will also accept test pilot school completion or two years of Ph.D. work in a science, technology, engineering or math field as a substitute for the master’s degree requirement.

Doctor of medicine degrees are also accepted as a substitute for the requirement.

Astronaut candidates must also have at least two years of "related, progressively responsible professional experience or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft," according to the news release.

The application also contains a new component: an online assessment that can take up to two hours to finish.

Candidates who have been chosen to train as astronauts must pass a physical and spend about two years gaining knowledge in robotics, water survival, spacewalk skills and more.

Once training is complete, they might in NASA’s upcoming missions. They may even be a part of NASA’s goal to return humans to the moon in 2024, which the agency said will help prepare its Mars operation in the mid-2030s.

For more information about the application and its requirements, visit NASA’s website.

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