Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter
Astronaut training is one of the toughest regimens out there. That is because Astronauts not only have to be in peak condition, they also need to be competent in the operation of all the equipment of the shuttle and be able to handle almost any situation that might occur out in space. Another way to put it is that space is THE most deadly environment there is and so if you are going to survive you will need just as rigourous training to survive. Here’s how to become an astronaut.
The first part of Astronaut training is the selection process. The training is intensive so candidates are chosen based on their ability to complete the initial training and the final roster of astronauts are those who can successfully complete the entire two years. The interesting thing about the selection process is that they choose from a wide pool of teacher, engineers, and scientists. The candidates are also drawn from both the military and the private sector.
As mentioned the full training period for prospective astronauts lasts two years. During this time the candidates read training manuals, computer simulations, and survival training. The type of survival training done involves water since this is the closest environment on Earth to outer space with the relative weightlessness and challenges of movement. As part of this training every astrounaut candidate has to undergo SCUBA certification. This is important because this helps candidate get used to training while carrying gear in a zero gravity environment. This is important for the next phase of training where they will train underwater wearing their full space suits.
For the pilots they are constantly trained and practice to maintain familiarity and skill with all NASA space craft. Once again simulators and more manual reading is vital. The other members of the prospective crew also learn to do experiments and operate equipment.
At the end of the two year period everyone who successfully completed training become official NASA astronauts. However, the training does not stop there. They then must undergo training specific for what mission they are selected to join. Meanwhile Astronauts either work in other positions at NASA or maintain their training regimen.
The training is tough and can only be rivaled by the most elite military training. However, it helps NASA produce a skilled and well prepared set of astronauts who can do all that is humanly possible to successfully complete their mission and advance the progress of space exploration.
If you enjoyed this article there are others on Universe Today that you might enjoy. There is an interesting article about US astronauts hitching rides on Chinese space craft. There is also an interesting about artificial gravity.
There are also great resources online. The NASA website has a great document that details what goes on in astronaut training. There is also a great article on training for the space station on pbs.com.
You can also check out Astronomy Cast. Episode 127 about the US Space Shuttle is quite interesting.