Be An Astronaut: NASA Starts Accepting Applications For Future Space Explorers

Bored of working out of a cubicle? Looking for a career change? Well, if you are a U.S. Citizen and would love to work at the recently named “best place to work in the federal government” for the fourth successive year, this job offer from NASA might just interest you. Make sure you’re qualified enough, though.

In a press release issued earlier today, NASA has invited applications from qualified individuals who would love to travel to space — for free. That’s right. NASA is on the lookout for new astronauts who would go on to man several of the organization’s future space missions. While it would take them over 1.5 years to select the candidates, you only have time till February 18 to submit your applications. The names of the selected candidates would be announced sometime in mid-2017.

NASA is looking to select people from a wide array of backgrounds. The organization is looking for engineers, scientists, and physicians who have a penchant for space travel. In fact, the press release goes on to add that as many as 3 million profiles on LinkedIn actually meet the minimum eligibility requirements for the post. Expect stiff competition for the same reason. Just to give an idea about the kind of competition the applicants should expect, the last time NASA did the same exercise back in 2013, more than 6,000 individuals applied, of which a meagre eight individuals were picked. In fact, the total number of people selected under this program ever since NASA’s inception doesn’t exceed 400 individuals, NBC News reports.

As for the qualifications, here is what the minimum eligibility criteria are. Excerpts from the press release read as follows.

“The candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics. An advanced degree is desirable. Candidates also must have at least three years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Astronaut candidates must pass the NASA long-duration astronaut physical.”

According to Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the organization needs a diverse mix of individuals to ensure it has the best astronaut corps possible.

“NASA’s mission, and what we need from the astronauts helping to carry it out, has evolved over the years. Some people would be surprised to learn they might have what it takes,” he further added.

Once they apply for the post, the candidates would be evaluated by an Astronaut Rating Panel. In this stage, the candidate’s academic credentials and work experience qualification is checked. They would them be placed in two categories — qualified and highly qualified. After this, the highly qualified applicants would be evaluated by an Astronaut Selection Board. Here too, they would be evaluated on their academic and work experience qualification requirements. Reference checks would also be undertaken. After this process, the qualified individuals would be interviewed and a select number of finalists are chosen. They would then be referred to an “appropriate official” who would be responsible for the final selections.

NASA Astronauts An old photo showing the crew members of the space shuttle Atlantis STS-135 crew. [Photo by NASA via Getty Images]In case you have any questions regarding the nature of the job, the entire application, and selection process, NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and astronaut selection manager Anne Roemer will answer questions about the same on Reddit.com beginning at 4 p.m. EST today. The link for the AMA is here.

In case you are interested, you can check out the detailed job description posted on the USAJobs website. For the curious, the pay scale for the job is between $66,026 and $144,566 per annum.

So, are you interested in this once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity from NASA? More importantly, are you qualified enough for the position?

[Photo by NASA/Getty Images]