NASA Workforce Map
Astronaut Candidate Program


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration accepts applications for the position of Astronaut Candidate on an as needed basis.

NASA will be accepting applications for a new class of astronauts starting December 14, 2015.


Table of Contents

International Space Station Program Description Return to TOC

The ISS is the largest international scientific and technological endeavor ever undertaken. The ISS is a permanent laboratory in a realm where gravity, temperature, and pressure can be manipulated for a variety of scientific and engineering pursuits that are impossible in ground-based laboratories. The ISS is a test bed for the technologies for the future as we learn more about living and working in space. Aboard the international laboratory, crews conduct medical research in space; develop new materials and processes to benefit industries on Earth; and accelerate breakthroughs in technology and engineering that will have immediate, practical applications for life on Earth.

The ISS is 356 feet across and 290 feet long, and weighs approximately 940,000 pounds. Six people can live on the ISS. The ISS is forging and maintaining new partnerships with the other space faring nations of the world; and satisfying humanity’s need to explore.

Astronaut Responsibilities Return to TOC

Astronauts are involved in all aspects of assembly and on-orbit operations of the ISS  This includes extravehicular activities (EVA), robotics operations using the remote manipulator system, experiment operations, and onboard maintenance tasks.  Astronauts are required to have a detailed knowledge of the ISS systems, as well as detailed knowledge of the operational characteristics, mission requirements and objectives, and supporting systems and equipment for each experiment on their assigned missions. 

Basic Qualification Requirements Return to TOC

Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements before submitting an application.

Astronaut Candidate (Non-Piloting background)

  1. Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics.

  2. Degree must be followed by at least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience or at least 1,000 pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience as follows: master’s degree = 1 year of experience, doctoral degree = 3 years of experience.  Teaching experience, including experience at the K - 12 levels, is considered to be qualifying experience for the Astronaut Candidate position; provided degree is in a Science, Engineering, or Mathematics field.

  3. Ability to pass the NASA Astronaut physical, which includes the following specific requirements:

    Distant and near visual acuity: Must be correctable to 20/20, each eye

    The refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK and LASIK, are allowed, providing at least 1 year has passed since the date of the procedure with no permanent adverse after effects.  For those applicants under final consideration, an operative report on the surgical procedure will be requested. 

Blood pressure not to exceed 140/90 measured in a sitting position

Standing height between 62 and 75 inches

Notes on Academic Requirements Return to TOC

Applicants for the Astronaut Candidate Program must meet the basic education requirements for NASA engineering and scientific positions - specifically: successful completion of standard professional curriculum in an accredited college or university leading to at least a bachelor's degree with major study in an appropriate field of engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics. The following degree fields, while related to engineering and the sciences, are not considered qualifying:

*- Degrees in Technology (Engineering Technology, Aviation Technology, Medical Technology, etc.)
*- Degrees in Psychology (except for Clinical Psychology, Physiological Psychology, or Experimental Psychology which are qualifying).
*- Degrees in Nursing.
*- Degrees in Exercise Physiology or similar fields
*- Degrees in Social Sciences (Geography, Anthropology, Archaeology, etc.).
*- Degrees in Aviation, Aviation Management, or similar fields.
Citizenship Requirements Return to TOC

Applicants for the Astronaut Candidate Program must be citizens of the United States. Applicants with valid U.S. dual-citizenship are also eligible.

Application Procedures  Return to TOC
  • Civilian
    Applications can only be submitted through the Office of Personnel Management’s USAJOBS site

  • Active Duty Military 
    Active duty military personnel must submit applications through the Office of Personnel Management’s USAJOBS Web site and to their respective military service. Contact your military service for additional application procedures.

Selection Return to TOC

Following the preliminary screening of applications, additional information may be requested from some applicants, and individuals listed in the application as supervisors and references may be contacted.  Applicants who are being considered as finalists for an interview may be required to obtain an Astronaut physical.

A week-long process of personal interviews, medical screening, and orientation will be required for both civilian and military applicants under final consideration. Once final selections have been made, all applicants will be notified of the outcome of the process. Complete background investigations will be performed on those selected.

General Program Requirements Return to TOC

Selected applicants will be designated Astronaut Candidates and will be assigned to the Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.  The astronaut candidates will undergo a training and evaluation period lasting approximately 2 years, during which time they will participate in the basic Astronaut Candidate training program, which is designated to develop the knowledge and skills required for formal mission training upon selection for a flight. Astronaut Candidates (with jet piloting backgrounds) will maintain proficiency in NASA aircraft during their candidate period.  

As part of the Astronaut Candidate training program, Astronaut Candidates are required to complete military water survival before beginning their flying syllabus, and become SCUBA qualified to prepare them for the EVA training.  Consequently, all Astronaut Candidates will be required to pass a swimming test.

Applicants should be aware that selection as an Astronaut Candidate does not ensure selection as an astronaut.  Final selection as an astronaut will depend upon satisfactory completion of the training and evaluation period. Graduation from the Astronaut Candidate Program will require successful completion of the following: International Space Station systems training, Extravehicular Activity skills training, Robotics skills training, Russian language training, and aircraft flight readiness training.  Civilian candidates who successfully complete the training and evaluation and are selected as astronauts will become permanent Federal employees. Civilian candidates who are not selected as astronauts may be placed in other positions within NASA, depending upon Agency requirements and labor constraints at that time.  Successful military candidates will be detailed to NASA for a specified tour of duty.

NASA has an affirmative action program goal of having qualified minorities and women among those selected as Astronaut Candidates.  Therefore, qualified minorities and women are encouraged to apply.

Pay and Benefits Return to TOC

  • Civilian
    Salaries for civilian Astronaut Candidates are based on the Federal Government’s General Schedule pay scales for grades GS-11 through GS-14, and are set in accordance with each individual’s academic achievements and experience.

  • Military 
    Selected military personnel will be detailed to the Johnson Space Center but will remain in an active duty status for pay, benefits, leave, and other similar military matters.