Become An Astronaut - NASA (2024)

NASA astronauts have been traveling to space for more than six decades and living there continuously since 2000. Now, NASA’s Artemis program is preparing to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon. The Orion spacecraft atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will carry humans farther into space than they have gone before—for missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

Quick Facts

The term “astronaut” derives from the Greek words meaning “star sailor.”

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More than12,000 people applied to be an astronaut between March 2 and March 31, 2020.

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NASA accepts applications for the Astronaut Candidate Program on an as-needed basis. In recent years, new astronaut candidates have been selected approximately every four years.

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Requirements to Become an Astronaut

Astronaut requirements have changed with NASA’s goals and missions. Today, to be considered for an astronaut position, applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen
  2. Have a master’s degree* in a STEM field, including engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics, from an accredited institution.
  3. Have a minimum of three years of related professional experience obtained after degree completion (or 1,000 Pilot-in-Command hours with at least 850 of those hours in high performance jet aircraft for pilots) For medical doctors, time in residency can count towards experience and must be completed by June 2025.
  4. Be able to successfully complete the NASA long-duration flight astronaut physical.

*The master’s degree requirement can also be met by:

  • Two years of work towards a doctoral program in a related science, technology, engineering, or math field.
  • Completed Doctor of Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, or related medical degree
  • Completion (or current enrollment that will result in completion by June 2025) of a nationally recognized test pilot school program.

Astronaut candidates must also have skills in leadership, teamwork and communications.

Artemis Generation astronauts will explore and conduct experiments where humans have never been: the lunar South Pole.

NASA’s Astronaut Selection Board reviews the applications and assesses each candidate’s qualifications. The board then invites a small group of the most highly qualified candidates for interviews at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Of those interviewed, about half are invited back for second interviews. From that group, NASA’s new astronaut candidates are selected. They report for training at Johnson and spend the next two years learning basic astronaut skills like spacewalking, operating the space station, flying T-38 jet planes and controlling a robotic arm.

With NASA’s plans for the future of exploration, new astronauts will fly farther into space than ever before on lunar missions and may be the first humans to fly on to Mars.

Learn more about how astronauts are selected

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Astronaut Candidates

Learn more about NASA’s newest astronauts.

What Does It Take?

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Future Exploration

As NASA continues to expand human exploration in our solar system, we will need more than the currently active astronauts to crew spacecraft bound for deep-space destinations.

NASA’s astronauts currently work as scientists on the International Space Station—a laboratory that orbits Earth approximately 240 miles above the planet’s surface. Astronauts on the station conduct scientific experiments such as innovative cancer research and research on the human body and living in space.

Soon the agency will be expanding its reach to conduct scientific investigations in lunar orbit aboard the Gateway space station, and on the surface of the Moon, as part of the Artemis program. Future astronauts could serve on Artemis missions or even journey to Mars.

Dreaming About Space Travel?

Start early: View resources for students on becoming a NASA astronaut about Dreaming About Space Travel?
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Expeditionary Skills

Expeditions are journeys made by people who share a definite purpose and specific experiences.

To make their expeditions successful, NASA works with astronaut crews on skills that prepare them to live and work together during space missions. Some of these same skills are useful in everyday life here on Earth. 4-H is a positive youth development program that prepares youth for life and work. Together, NASA and 4-H are creating the following series of activities designed to take you through various educational expeditions that will help you learn and practice skills that you can apply in almost every aspect of life.

Learn About Expeditionary Skills
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Training To Be An Astronaut

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Learn More and Get Involved

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Astronaut Fact Book

This document pertains to U.S. Astronauts and includes information about international astronauts and Cosmonauts who are partners in the ISS.

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Join Artemis

Make, launch, teach, compete and learn. Find your favorite way to be part of the Artemis mission.

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Watch Video of Astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli Answers #AskNASA Questions on the Application Process

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10 Ways Students Can Prepare to #BeAnAstronaut

Want to #BeAnAstronaut, but don’t know where to start? Here are some ways you can kick-start your journey!

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