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Have you ever dreamed of going into orbit or traveling to the moon? There are two realistic options if you want to do make it happen. One is to become a space tourist. However the flights now available cost several million dollars and even start up commercial space tourism companies like Virgin Galactica will still cost around $100,000 at least when they start flights. The other option is to become an Astronaut.
Becoming an Astronaut is a very rigorous process. Since the inception of the Astronaut program there have only been 357 astronauts. However the hurdles are not as hard as you might think. There are Astronauts from all sorts of backgrounds from teachers, scientists, and military to private citizens who represent companies as payload specialists. In the end there are hurdles and requirements to overcome to become an Astronaut.
First an Astronaut needs a proper educational background and related professional experience. The rule is on top of a undergraduate degree either in education, maths, physical sciences or engineering you will either need an advance degree or 3 years of practical experience. Of course being in the military or being an air force pilot also count. So if you are in a science in school or a teaching program, congrats, 3 years after college you can become an astronaut.
Second, there is the physical requirements. Astronauts have to be in a particular height range which is somewhere between 5ft. and 6ft. 4 in. They also have to have eyesight that is either or can be corrected to 20/20. For people who get laser eye surgery they have to wait a year and provide documentation for the procedure. You also have to have the target blood pressure which means a relatively healthy heart. The rest is pretty obvious like having no medical conditions that will handicap you on a mission.
Finally there is the grueling astronaut training. All astronauts have to go through 2 years of training to become astronauts. During that period they read manuals and learn how to operate various tools and instruments on the space shuttle as well as the space station. They also undergo underwater survival training and zero gravity chamber training to prepare for weightlessness in space. If an astronaut completes the training they will become officially part of NASA and will be required to stay on for 5 years be considered permanent employees.
So becoming an Astronaut is definitely achievable. It just take some hard work and dedication.
If you enjoyed this article there are others on Universe Today that you will be sure to enjoy. There is a great article on the possible experiments astronauts may do upon returning to the moon. There is also an article about an actual ion shield for future spacecraft.
You can also check out Astronomy Cast. Episode 124 Space Capsules is fascinating.