In childhood when the teacher used to ask what you want to be when you grow up, most of us said doctor, engineer or astronaut. I don’t have any idea about doctor or engineer, but if you want to be an astronaut here is a great opportunity for you, NASA is hiring new astronauts for its upcoming moon mission.
The new astronauts will be part of NASA’s Artemis missions which aim to reach the South Pole of the moon by 2024 and set up a station on the moon and eventually send humans to Mars.
The American space agency wants the first person to reach the southern pole of the moon to be a woman, with a male also joining on the mission. Applications are set to open in just over a week on March 2 and there are only two basic requirements to fly to Moon a master’s degree in a STEM subject, and US citizenship.
That’s not quite all it takes, of course. Applicants will also need at least two years of related professional experience or upwards of 1,000 hours piloting a jet aircraft. Then there’s a two-hour online assessment and the small matter of what NASA describes as “a long-duration spacecraft physical”.
When it comes to making it to the interview stage the numbers are a little daunting. In 2016, NASA’s Astronaut Selection Board received 18,300 applications and only 120 were invited in to talk about their application.
Dean said NASA changed these job requirements to better reflect the candidates that actually get hired. “Everyone’s had a master’s or had been a test pilot, so it made sense,” she said.
The hiring process is long. The most promising applications go to a panel made up of current astronauts, who pick out the most qualified individuals. Astronauts know what the job entails, Dean said, and “they’ll tell you that what’s harder to see on paper is operational experience.”
There are now just 48 astronauts in the astronaut corps, and only 350 people being trained under the NASA astronaut program from the 1960s, the role remained one of the most exciting positions available in world.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that “for the handful of highly talented women and men we will hire to join our diverse astronaut corps, it’s an incredible time in human spaceflight to be an astronaut. We’re asking all eligible Americans if they have what it to takes to apply beginning March 2”
After getting hired the candidates spend a lot of time in the classroom and receive intensive training to develop the basic skills required of astronauts. Which includes spacewalk practice underwater, virtual-reality experiments, lessons in Russian, learning how to operate a robot arm, and mastering ISS protocol.
The astronaut candidates also all fly T-38 fighter jets.
“That’s one segment that’s completely real” in the training, Dean said. “These decisions could have life-or-death consequences. You have to be ready to deal with anything that might come up.”
After two years of initial training, astronaut candidates are eligible for assignments. According to NASA’s about the roles, those assignments could involve living and work at the International Space Station on experiments to help improve our life at home and prepare them for a more distant exploration of space.
It adds: “They may also launch on NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, docking the spacecraft at the Gateway in lunar orbit before taking a new human landing system to the moon.
After returning humans to moon in 2024, NASA plans to establish sustainable lunar exploration by 2028. Gaining new experiences on & around the moon will help NASA to send the first humans to Mars in 2030s.
Once they’re assigned to a mission, that usually requires another couple years of training. But astronauts waiting for assignments are still quite busy, Dean said.
“You’re not just twiddling your thumbs,” she said. “You’re helping develop new spacecraft, supporting fellow astronauts who are in space, and lots more.”
Dean added that NASA was already planning to hire a new class of astronauts before a funding boost for the space agency was included in the new federal budget
But the additional money will allow astronauts to conduct more research and give them more opportunities in their roles. “We’re asking all eligible Americans if they have what it takes to apply,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
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