NASA is hiring astronauts for future space missions, it has been announced on November 4. Those interested in being part of the next generation of astronauts employed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration can apply for this once in a lifetime opportunity, starting from December 14.
This initial stage of the recruiting process, taking place through usajobs.gov, will last until mid February 2016. Afterwards, until September 2016 applicants will be reviewed and their references will be verified. Civilian candidates will also be required to take a Federal Aviation Administration medical exam.
In the next stage, those on the short list will have to complete initial interviews, health evaluations and orientation at Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. In May 2017, the final list of selected applicants will be compiled, and the lucky individuals who will get to start astronaut training will be informed in mid 2017.
At the moment, NASA has 47 active astronauts, and their annual salaries are between $66,000 and $144,500, depending on overall experience.
Throughout history, only 338 people have been employed as NASA astronauts, but given the fact that currently extensive efforts are underway to build more spacecraft than ever before, agency officials believed it was essential for new space travelers to join their ranks.
After receiving the required training, those who prove worthy and capable of this challenge will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS). The habitable artificial satellite, which is the largest man-made structure encountered in space, has recently marked 15 years of non-stop human presence.
It has accommodated a total of 1,700 microgravity experiments, giving researchers the opportunity to study the effects of space missions on the physical and mental health of the crew, especially when it comes to longer-duration voyages.
Newly chosen astronauts will also get the chance to be part of the federal agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which be aboard two newly designed spacecraft: Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceX Crew Dragon.
Moreover, it is expected that NASA’s new recruits will have the opportunity to be carried by the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle in an extended voyage round the Moon, and to an asteroid that will be placed in the lunar orbit.
Deep-space explorations will be conducted by these audacious astronauts, with the ultimate goal of “putting boot prints on the Red Planet” sometime in the 2030’s.
“The class of 2017 could very well include the first people to step foot on Mars. It could be our class, it could be their class, it could be after. It’s an exciting time”, declared NASA astronaut Anne McClain, which has become part of the team in 2013.
In order to be selected, candidates are required to have a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, engineering, technology or science. They are also expected to have 3 years of relevant professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.
In addition, they need to meet the following fitness and health requirements: correctable 20/20 vision in both eyes, blood pressure not exceeding 140/90 in sitting position, and a height between 5 feet 2 inches and 6 feet 3 inches.
Last but not least, the applicants will have to successfully complete the long-term physical trials established by NASA. While there are no age limitations in the Astronaut Candidate program, the average age of those who have been chosen in the past was 34, with individual ages ranging from 26 to 46.
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