Today, NASA announced plans to start accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates. This is in anticipation of human spaceflight returning to American soil.
The agency will begin accepting applications December 14. The window will remain open through mid-February. Applications for consideration are being accepted at usajobs.gov.
NASA administrators say those accepted may fly on any of four different U.S. vessels during their careers: the International Space Station, two commercial crew spacecraft currently being deployed, and NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle.
NASA selects qualified candidates from a pool of U.S. citizens with a wide variety of backgrounds, including pilots, engineers, scientists and medical doctors.
“This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Those selected for this service will fly on U.S. made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station, and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space.”
In addition, NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, now in development, will launch astronauts on missions to the proving ground of lunar orbit where NASA will learn to conduct complex operations in a deep space environment before moving on to longer duration missions on its journey to Mars.
“This is an exciting time to be a part of America’s human space flight program,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “NASA has taken the next step in the evolution of our nation’s human spaceflight program – and our U.S. astronauts will be at the forefront of these new and challenging space flight missions. We encourage all qualified applicants to learn more about the opportunities for astronauts at NASA and apply to join our flight operations team.”
There are currently 47 astronauts in the active astronaut corps. More will be needed to crew future missions to the space station as well as deep space destinations.
Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics; an advanced degree is preferred. They must also have at least 3-years of related professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Astronaut candidates must pass a long-duration spaceflight physical.
See other requirements on NASA’s website.