NASA is looking for applicants for its next class of astronaut candidates who will support long-duration missions to the International Space Station and future deep space exploration activities.
“We hope to have a lot of interest and applications so we can have a great class in 2013,” Duane Ross of the NASA Astronaut Selection Office told Universe Today. “This is a pretty fun job.”
So, do you have the right stuff to be an astronaut in today’s changing space environment?
NASA says that a bachelor’s degree in engineering, science or math and three years of relevant professional experience are required in order to be considered. Typically, successful applicants have significant qualifications in engineering or science, or extensive experience flying high-performance jet-aircraft.
“For scientists, engineers and other professionals who have always dreamed of experiencing spaceflight, this is an exciting time to join the astronaut corps,” said Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “This next class will support missions to the station and will arrive via transportation systems now in development. They also will have the opportunity to participate in NASA’s continuing exploration programs that will include missions beyond low Earth orbit.”
Ross said that this upcoming class will be rather small. “The last class of 2009 we had nine NASA folks and they were joined by five international partner astronauts. I think our goal would be something in the eight to twelve range. The actual number doesn’t get decided until we know better what our requirements are and what our loses have been.”
So, how will these astronauts be trained, since the space shuttle is no longer flying and future astronauts may be flying on spacecraft that haven’t been built yet?
“For the last class we picked we actually picked them to be long duration crew members for space station. They didn’t train for the space shuttle and that is exactly what we are going to do with this class,” Ross said. “The new class will train for learning the International Space Station systems, the Russian language, spacewalk and robotics training, and several other disciplines and other things that will come online such as the MultiPurpose Crew Vehicle. For the things that mature downstream, there will be training for those when the time is right but right now we are going to concentrate on the space station.”
After applicant interviews and evaluations, NASA expects to announce the final selections in 2013, and training to begin that August.
NASA will begin accepting applications in November 2011. Additional information about the Astronaut Candidate Program is available by calling the Astronaut Selection Office at 281-483-5907.
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