7 SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT BECOMING A NASA ASTRONAUT
Many people want to become astronauts when they grow up. Sometimes it’s the simple wonder one feels when they look up at the moon and realize that there are humans who’ve stepped on it; the kind of wonder that makes you want to be among the next humans to do it. Sometimes it’s the ambition to be one of the first people sent on a mission to colonize Mars. Sometimes it’s just wanting the bragging rights that come with it all: walking into a room and everyone immediately looks at you with respect and friendly envy. “There, that’s him/her. That’s the astronaut!”
Whatever your reasons for wanting to be an astronaut might be, you are definitely going to find the following facts about the whole process of actually becoming one pretty interesting. Here are 7 surprising facts about becoming a NASA astronaut.
Yes, you read that right. It doesn’t really matter how old you are. NASA has traditionally been accepting candidates between the ages of 26 and 46. However, candidates way older than this have also been accepted. The late John Glenn, the oldest man to go into space, did so at the age of 77 for Osteoporosis Experiment in Orbit. In fact, most candidates join NASA in their 30s and 40s. These are people who leave successful careers elsewhere to come to NASA and start from scratch. What I can tell you is that it will be harder to join NASA if you’re younger than 26 because of the other requirements. Even so, it’s much better to wait to join an organization when you’re older than be unable to do so because you’re not as young as you should be.
The other requirements for joining NASA are that you have at least 1 bachelor’s degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), be a US citizen, have excellent vision, and have either 3 years of work experience at least 1000 hours of experience flying jet aircraft. NASA gets thousands of applications every time it announces vacant spots for its newest class, and only selects a handful, so the least you can do is be healthy, smart, and really good at what you do to increase your chances. You’re going to need every little edge you can get.
If you’re still in school and want to get into the STEM field, it’s best to start preparing yourself academically right now. Start by reading material on the topic and practice writing about what you’ve learned. The best essay writing is the kind that conveys your ideas is a clear and concise way without being boring. You can also become a paper writer to advance your skills even further With that, you can improve your grade enough to get accepted to the most prestigious universities for STEM training.
Hated swimming sessions in school? Well, get ready to swim more than you ever have in basic training once you’re selected as an astronaut candidate. In your very first month of training, you will be required to swim 75 meters in total. That’s 3 full laps of a 25-meter pool. If you think that’s pretty hard, I should add the fact that you will often be required to swim with a full flight suit and tennis shoes, weighing over 250 pounds in total. If it makes things any easier, at least you get to choose which stroke to use among the breaststroke, freestyle stroke, and sidestroke. You also don’t get timed on the swim. You will, however, be required to tread water for 10 full minutes after every swim and need to get a scuba certification as part of the process.
In case you don’t have any piloting experience, you will also be taken through water survival courses run by the navy. You’ll learn how to work with rescue vehicles, deploy water rafts, and so on.
This kind of training is mainly supposed to prepare you for the kind of terrain you’ll find on the moon. The moon is littered with craters, many of them visible to the naked eye from Earth. NASA needed to train astronauts to maneuver in crater-laden terrains and collect soil samples. At first, they used the Meteor Crater in Northern Arizona, but they later had to simulate a full crater field. So they mapped out a section of the surface of the moon and recreated it in Flagstaff, Arizona with the help of lots of dynamite. Expect to test-drive rovers in this territory a lot during training.
At the moment, all trips to the ISS (International Space Station) happen on the Russian Soyuz aircraft. As a consequence, all astronauts who want to get to the ISS, regardless of their nation of origin, need to know Russian. Russian is not an easy language to learn, and you will have to learn it in a short period, so it’s best to start catching up on your Russian early enough to give yourself an edge during the training program if you get selected.
To help you learn Russian, consider not only speaking, but also reading and writing in Russian. You’ll have to learn a lot of technical jargon in Russian since the Russian cosmonauts will be talking about technical subjects in the language. Get help from an essay writing service to improve your reading and writing skills. That way, you can get early preparation and get ahead of the curve by the time you’re in training.
The toilets in space are nothing like the ones on Earth. Because of the microgravity in space orbit, toilets have to use suction to flush out your no.1 and no.2. They’re also much smaller than earth-bound toilets. This means you will have to practise both working with suction-powered toilets, and aiming at a small toilet.
You’re going to be exposed to lots of hazardous situations on space missions, so you’ll need to train to survive while still earth-bound. Survival training will therefore be a crucial part of your space training. Prepare to spend some time in the wilderness learning how to set up a shelter, forage for food, and hunt small animals.
Believe it or not, you will actually spend most of your time on earth doing other things. Most astronauts wait more than a couple of years before they get their first space mission. During those years, they will mostly be working on refreshing their skill set and gaining even more advanced ones, as well as helping engineers in the space program to run things. Sometimes they even serve as foreign liaisons.
If you want to become an astronaut, start preparing early. Brush up on your school work and keep your grades high. Proving you’re smart is at least half the battle. On the side, engage in as many extra-curricular activities to keep yourself healthy and fit, and also to gain a wider perspective on the world. With enough hard work and ambition, your dreams will come true.