How to Become an Astronaut?

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How to Become an Astronaut

Whoever said the sky’s the limit, doesn’t know about the universe! – Israel Adesanya. The journey to the universe isn’t an ordinary one. Every person who walked on the moon has spent years of studies, training, research, and much more. However, these people have proved that nothing is impossible, even if it means doing something completely out of the world! There are various aspects to consider if you wish to become an astronaut. Moreover, the long process it takes to become an astronaut can be rigorous and filled with training but only the most hardcore persevering individuals actually make it into space! This blog brings you the complete career map on how to become an astronaut, qualifications you need, requirements, training and more!

Meet Indian-American Raja Chari Selected for NASA’s SpaceX Mission!

What does an Astronaut do?

From merely gazing at the planets to finally landing at one, humans have reached extraordinary levels. Life outside the earth is a dream that is predicted to be true. To fly out in space and gather information, astronauts are trained professionals who enter the Outerspace via spacecraft to explore and discover the universe and uncover its mysteries. They also conduct various experiments and navigate the routes to different planets and satellites. However, there are several factors that are considered in this long journey. Read further to check essential points for how to become an astronaut.

Astronaut comes from the Greek words “ástron ” meaning star and “nautes” meaning sailor.

Qualifications & Requirements

Eligibility is a crucial element for considering ‘how to become an astronaut’. Since the first crewed spacecraft from India is going to launch in December 2021, here are the major qualifications and eligibility requirements to become an astronaut in India:

  • He/She must be a citizen of India. 
  • An Indian Air Force pilot is preferred for the scheduled space mission because of the need for professional experience in aircraft. 
  • Students must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university/college. The degree could be either in computer science, engineering, physics, mathematics, chemistry, or biology. 
  • Applicants must have an aggregate of 65% or CGPA / CPI grading of a minimum of 6.84 on a 10 scale.
  • A Master’s or doctorate degree in aerospace engineering, aeronautical engineering, Science is essential for higher positions and will add up to your achievements.

Here is how you can become a Scientist in ISRO!

Requirements to Become an Astronaut in NASA

Students who wish to become an astronaut in the world’s most active space centers- NASA, must follow the points below to check their eligibility:

  • Applicants must be American Citizens.
  • Students must have a bachelor’s degree in Computer/Physical science, engineering, biology, or maths. 
  • Applicants must have an aggregate of 65%.
  • A minimum of 3 years of professional experience is required or 1,000 hours of piloting.

Explore the Education of Kalpana Chawla!

Courtesy: Tech Insider

Physical/Medical Requirements for ISRO, NASA & SpaceX

To fly out of the world in another dimension, there are certain physical and medical requirements. These play a crucial role in the employability of astronauts since it’s not easy or convenient to make an emergency return and it’s better to take precautions. 

Requirements for NASA

According to NASA, candidates undergo a training program for physical assessment that includes tests like swimming, scuba diving, military water survival, and atmospheric pressure tests where many conditions are assessed.

Requirements for ISRO

Since ISRO is soon to launch its first space mission,  astronauts who wish to apply must have a satisfactory medical history, perfect visual acuity, normal blood pressure and they must be in good shape. Apart from these physical requirements, certain psychological aspects are also considered such as the astronaut’s history of substance abuse, cognitive/mental capabilities, and behavioural aspects. 

Requirements for SpaceX

Normal medical and physiological health criteria shall be utilised in general. These criteria are based on evidence-based medicine and have been validated via clinical trials. The candidate must be free of any ailment or addiction to drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. All joints have a normal range of motion and function. Visual acuity of 100 percent (20/20) in both eyes, either untreated or corrected with lenses or contact lenses. Any psychological illnesses must be avoided by the candidate. It is critical to be healthy, with an age- and gender-appropriate degree of fitness. In a sitting position, blood pressure should not be higher than 140/90. The required standard height is between 157 and 190 cm.

Characteristics and Skills Required

Apart from the aforementioned eligibility criteria, you must possess certain skills that determine their chances of becoming an astronaut. 

  1. Good communication skills
  2. Coordination skills
  3. English Language proficiency and speech in one other foreign language will be beneficial.
  4. Multi-tasking abilities
  5. Being Patient and Calm in emergency situations
  6. Observational skills
  7. Teamwork
  8. Leadership skills
  9. Resiliency
  10. Adaptability
  11. Curiosity
  12. Ability to Trust
  13. Creativity / Resourcefulness

Top Universities To Become An Astronaut

For being an astronaut, having professional academic training from a certified institution is requisite. The following institutions offer bachelor and combined degree programs in space studies that help you take your initial step in how to become an Astronaut. The admission is based on academic excellence in relevant subjects and the IELTS, TOEFL, SAT, or GRE scores for Indian students who wish to secure their admission.

Universities Abroad

Here are the world’s top universities to become an Astronaut:

University/Academy/Institute Location 
University of California, Berkeley USA
University of Washington USA
Auburn University USA
University of Texas USA
Stanford University USA
University of Colorado—Boulder USA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA
United States Military Academy USA
United States Air Force Academy USA
United States Naval Academy USA
University of Cambridge UK
Sorbonne Universite France 
Leiden University Netherlands 
University of Toronto Canada 
University of Oxford UK

Universities in India

Apart from the above globally renowned universities, there are universities in India that provide excellent education and training for students who aspire to become astronauts. Here is a list of top training centres to become an astronaut in India:

  • Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST)
  • Indian Institute of Science (IISc)
  • Indian Institute of Technology
  • Amity University
  • Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani
  • IITs

More Info: Aeronautical Engineering Colleges

Career Scope 

Having a career as an astronaut in India is still in the process with the first crewed flight planned with a spacecraft called Gaganyaan for December 2021. Take a look at the top organisations and centres which hire astronauts in India:

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  • Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)
  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
  • Aerospace Industry
  • National Aeronautical Laboratories (NAL)

The USA’s NASA is among the top space centres with the best institutes for training and research which recruits 20 employees every two years. Apart from these, many other countries have space centres that recruit astronauts:

  • Canadian Space Agency
  • European Space Agency
  • Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency
  • Russian Federal Space Agency
  • China National Space Administration

Space studies also make you competent in many other professions. A few departments that recruit space scientists are:

  • Space research labs
  • Military operations
  • Spacecraft manufacturing firms
  • In government/national observatories
  • Software designing for spacecraft software developing firms
Courtesy: TEDx Talks

Salary

Among the many perks of being an astronaut, a good amount of salary is one of them. In India, Astronauts are paid based on the Fifth Pay Commission. For physicists, scientists, or engineers at ISRO the pay is around INR 42 lakh to INR 92 lakh p.a. However, people in the directorial or a higher position are paid around INR 2 lakh-3 lakh per month. The pay is determined based on the person’s skills, achievements, and experience. Apart from a profitable salary, astronauts are also given various other benefits like medical benefits, travel allowances, insurance, housing facilities, etc.

Know more: Rakesh Sharma, The First Indian Astronaut in Space

How To Become An Astronaut: Advantages & Disadvantages

Advantages

  • Seeing the Earth from space
  • Seeing other planets from the space
  • Take off and landing power
  • A sense of perspective
  • An opportunity to explore the infinite space
  • Getting to work with some of the greatest and talented people from across the globe
  • Get the opportunity to use high-tech and innovative machines and gadgets
  • Get to become well known and visible to the public

Disadvantages

  • Greater chances of being lost in the space or get injured
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone loss
  • The feeling of stress and isolation
  • Other health effects
  • Impairment of blood vessels
  • Radiation effects
  • Have to go through long and grueling years of training
  • Have to endure long times away from friends and family

List Of Famous Astronauts [BONUS]

If you are wondering how to become an astronaut and are lacking that kick of motivation, then we have got your back in almost every problem of yours. Here is a list of some of the famous and greatest astronauts from around the world that will give you that required boost of motivation so that one day your name too can enter this list.

  • Yuri Gagarin, Russia
  • Neil Armstrong, USA
  • Valentina Tereshkova, Russia
  • Buzz Aldrin, USA
  • Alan Shepard, USA
  • Sally Ride, USA
  • John Glenn, USA
  • Chris Hadfield, Canada
  • Charles Pete Conrad, USA
  • Alexei Leonov, Soviet-Russia
  • Mae Carol Jemison, USA
  • Kalpana Chawla, Indian
  • Marc Garneau, Canada
  • Rakesh Sharma, Indian

Alternative Careers

The logistics and other departments of space require a big team with a variety of skilled people. If you love jobs related to space and need an alternative career option to astronauts, here are a few similar jobs options.

  • Aerospace Engineers
  • Chemists
  • Mechanical Engineers
  • Physicists
  • Airplane Pilots
  • Biologists
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineers
  • Materials Engineers
  • Medical Scientists
  • Biomedical Engineers
  • Robotics Engineers
  • Validation Engineers

FAQs

How long does it take to become an astronaut?

Astronauts must undergo two years of required basic training in addition to six years of study and two years of professional experience. All of this adds up to around a decade of planning. Following that, astronauts may have to wait months or years before embarking on their first space journey.

What qualifies you to be an astronaut?

To become an astronaut, you must have a master’s degree in biological science, physical science, computer science, engineering, or math.

How much do astronauts get paid?

The average starting wage for GS-11 astronauts is $66,026 per year. Astronauts in the GS-14 classification can earn up to $144,566 per year.

Who is the youngest astronaut?

Astronaut in the making Alyssa Carson is attempting to become the youngest person in space and one of the first individuals to set foot on Mars. Alyssa graduated from the Advanced Space Academy at the age of 16, making her the youngest person ever to do so.

Is it easy to become an astronaut?

It takes a lot of effort to become an astronaut. It is, in reality, quite difficult labour. Clay Anderson, a retired astronaut, failed in his first 15 attempts before ultimately making it through the arduous screening procedure. Only a small number of candidates make it out of the atmosphere.

Hope this blog helped you pave your way to the universe and gave you important details for how to become an Astronaut. Choosing this as a career option is a decision that requires dedication for a lifetime. If you aspire to soar high and don’t know where to start, our experts at Leverage Edu are here to guide you in finding the right course and university and building a career map to help you actualize your professional goals! Sign up for a free session with us today!

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