Astronauts are pretty cool. They get to ride in rockets and float about in space. But as fun as it might look, it takes a lot of hard work.
Here are seven things it takes to be an astronaut, courtesy of NASA’s astronaut requirements list. Would you make the cut?
1) Get the right degree
Though many successful astronauts have masters degrees, PhDs and post-doctoral qualifications to their name, NASA only requires astronaut candidates have a university bachelor’s degree in a STEM subject - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics degrees are ideal.
However, NASA does say that “an advanced degree is desirable” since the “quality of academic preparation is important.”
2) Have great eyesight.
Just like pilots, having 20/20 vision is a prerequisite to being an astronaut.
But if you do wear glasses, all hope is not lost.
If you have up to 20/100 uncorrected eyesight and it can be surgically corrected to 20/20 vision, you’re good to go! You'll just have to wait at least a year after your surgery to commence training.
3) Handle the pressure
All astronaut candidates need to pass a physical before being accepted into the program.
Astronauts are expected to be relatively fit in order to withstand high and low barometric pressure situations. NASA requires aspiring astronaut to have a blood pressure reading of about 140/90 at sitting position.
If accepted into the program, candidates will have to partake in various underwater exercise, to further acclimatise their bodies to pressure levels similar to what they’d experience in space.
Gizmodo Australia says within the first month, astronauts must be able to “swim three laps of a 25-metre pool without stopping, then swim three laps of the pool in a flight suit and tennis shoes, then tread water continuously for 10 minutes.”
Astronauts-in-training will also become qualified scuba divers and perform military-level water survival training. Water landings can be risky.
4) Be tall
To be a commander or pilot astronaut, you need to be 158 to 190cm tall, NASA says.
To be a mission specialist, however, there a little more leeway – “between 58.5 and 76 inches” which is 149 to 193cm.
A commander is responsible for the mission’s success, the safety of the crew and shuttle itself. The pilot astronaut assists the commander - they have a more technical role in operating and controlling the shuttle.
A mission specialist assists both the commander and pilot by coordinating the running of the shuttle which includes “crew activity planning, consumables usage, and experiment/payload operations.”
5) Cope with long distance relationships
Space missions can take months if not years to complete.
Astronaut Scott Kelly returned only this March from his 340-day expedition. Being comfortable with not seeing your family and friends for a long time is important if you want to be an astronaut.
6) Clock 1,000 hours of jet pilot experience
NASA finds “flight test experience is highly desirable” when applying for their Astronaut Candidate Program, but it’s not a deal-breaker if you’ve never flown a plane before.
The 1,000 hours of experience get clocked during the course of your NASA training, after you’ve been accepted to the program.
This is only a mandatory requirement if you want to be a commander or a pilot astronaut.
7) Survive the ‘vomit comet’
The vomit comet, the colloquial name for the reduced-gravity aircraft, helps astronauts grow accustomed to weightlessness.
The aircraft, which remains within Earth’s atmosphere, takes a series of parabolic routes resulting in minutes of zero gravity as the aircraft free-falls.
The music video by OKGo below was made in a 'vomit comet'. It's amazing.