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What does it take to become an astronaut? Here’s what NASA says.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/10/what-does-it-take-to-become-an-astronaut/

nationalgeographic.com

What does it take to become an astronaut? Here’s what NASA says.
The next class of astronauts will be selected from thousands of applicants. Some of them may walk on the moon or be the first to set foot on Mars.

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Becoming an astronaut: The selection process

Becoming an astronaut: The selection process

Choosing NASA's astronauts is not a simple process. In March, 12,040 hopefuls, already in possession of a master's degree, applied to be members of the next class.

  • The selection process involves a written application and reference checks as the process narrows down. Then, around 120 applicants will be invited to the first round of interviews.
  • Some skills analysis and basic medical testing will be done, and then 40 to 60 people will be back for the second round of interviews.
  • During the second round, they spend a week doing some team reaction exercises, individual performance exercises, and checking other competencies.

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Becoming an astronaut: What helps applicants stand out

The focus is on operational experience in situations where they will make real-time decisions in a relatively high-stress environment. To gain this experience, people tend to go to the Antarctic or do wilderness rescue. They may also get their private pilot's license. Teamwork and leadership experience is essential.

When going through so many resumes, it's the unique things that stand out.

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Becoming an astronaut: Personality characteristics

Interpersonal skills are essential: teamwork, followership, leadership, communication skills, especially under stress and over a long-duration, such as a mission to the moon, or Mars.

Astronauts should be able to modulate their skillset, and maybe even their personality, to be prepared for what's needed at the time: Sometimes you are in charge of issuing orders and commanding respect. Other times you might be following orders that mission control sends up.

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