If you have ever dreamed of becoming the next Neil Armstrong now might just be your chance. After years of budget cuts and minimal exploration, NASA will once again open up applications for astronauts on the 14th of December this year. The application period will run into February 2016.
Don’t get too excited just yet. You will have to meet some strict criteria before your application is even considered. You can throw your name into the hat should you have a degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics, and experience in their field ““ or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in a jet aircraft.
If successful the applicant will join the Astronaut Corps which currently employs 47 astronauts. A new generation of astronauts are needed for the next phase in space exploration which includes sending humans to Mars in the next 15 years. “This is an exciting time to be a part of America’s human space flight program,” said Brian Kelly, NASA’s director of flight operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “NASA has taken the next step in the evolution of our nation’s human spaceflight program, and our US astronauts will be at the forefront of these new and challenging space flight missions.”
Successful applicants will, according to NASA, be manning any of the four different US-made vessels during their careers: the International Space Station, NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle, which is currently being built, and two commercial spacecraft, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon.
Charles Bolden, a NASA administrator, stated – “This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet. Those selected for this service will fly on U.S.-made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station, and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space.”
Even though the applications close in February next year, the new candidates will only be announced by mid-2017.
Follow Jaco on Twitter: @Jaco_vdWalt