Did you ever watch astronauts or cosmonauts drifting in space during a so-called space walk and say to yourself, “Hey, I can do that?”
Well more than 18,000 people have had the same feeling and have applied to NASA to become a member of the agency’s 2017 astronaut class. The actual number was 18, 300. The last time there was a record-setting response to NASA’s call for astronauts was in 1978 when 8,000 people applied.
NASA started to receive applications on December 14, 2015 and the application process was closed last Tuesday, February 16.
But it’s just the end of the beginning of the process of 18-months that will end when eight to 14 individuals will be selected for the opportunity to become astronaut candidates. NASA says it will announce its selections in mid-2017.
Between now and then, NASA’s Astronaut Selection Board will review the applications and assess each candidate’s qualifications. The board will then invite the most highly qualified candidates to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for interviews before the final selection is made and the new astronaut candidates report to Johnson for training.
After reporting at Johnson, the astronaut candidates will go through about two years of initial training on spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills and teamwork, Russian language and other requisite skills.
Those who complete the training will be given technical duties within the Astronaut Office at Johnson before being assigned on any of four different spacecraft – the International Space Station, NASA’s Orion spacecraft for deep space exploration, or one of two American-made commercial crew spacecraft currently in development, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner or the SpaceX Crew Dragon.
The commercial crew spacecraft will carry four astronauts to the space station, expanding the orbiting laboratory’s crew from six to seven and effectively doubling the amount of crew time available to conduct the important research and technology demonstrations that are advancing our knowledge for the journey to Mars, while also returning benefits to Earth.
Contact NASA about other job opportunities.