- What is the best degree field to choose?
Among the academic fields considered qualifying for Astronaut Candidate positions, we would not recommend one over another or specify which might be more appropriate in the future. You should choose a field of study that is of interest to you; this will ensure that, whatever course your career takes, you will be prepared to do something that is personally satisfying. You can obtain information on the backgrounds of the current and past astronauts at the following website:
- Are there age restrictions?
There are no age restrictions for the program. Astronaut candidates selected in the past have ranged between the ages of 26 and 46, with the average age being 34.
- Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to apply for the Astronaut Candidate Program?
Yes, you must be a U.S. citizen to apply for the program through NASA, applicants with valid U.S. dual-citizenship are also eligible. It is not recommended that you change your citizenship solely for the purpose of being eligible for the Astronaut Candidate Program.
We do have international astronauts from the countries with which we have an international agreement-Canada, Japan, Russia, Brazil, and Europe select the International Astronaut. Each of these countries has their own Space Agency.
You can obtain information about other space agencies at the following website:
International Space Agencies
- What is the best college or university to attend?
NASA cannot recommend one college or university over another, or specify which schools might best prepare an individual for the Astronaut Candidate Program. However, please remember that the college or university you attend must be an accredited institution.
- Is flying experience necessary?
Flying experience is not a requirement. The Astronaut Candidate Program requires either 3 years of professional related experience, or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft to meet the minimum qualification requirement. Jet aircraft experience is usually obtained through the military. Any type of flying experience-military or private, is beneficial to have.
- Are waivers granted for any of the medical requirements?
No, NASA does not grant waivers for the medical requirements. When qualifying astronauts for space flight, NASA must look at not only what is required for normal spaceflight operations, but also what each astronaut would require should serious, even life threatening, problems develop. For maximum crew safety, each crewmember must be free of medical conditions that would either impair the person's ability to participate in, or be aggravated by, space flight, as determined by NASA physicians.
- Is surgery to improve visual acuity allowed?
As of September 2007, the refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK and LASIK, are now 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.
- Is it better to apply as a civilian or through the military?
Military experience is not a requirement for the Astronaut Candidate Program. Active duty military personnel must submit applications for the Astronaut Candidate Program through their respective service. After preliminary screening by the military, a small number of applications are submitted to NASA for further consideration. If selected, military personnel are detailed to NASA for a selected period of time.
- What is the annual salary for astronauts?
Salaries for civilian Astronaut Candidates are based upon the Federal Government's General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-11 through GS-14. The grade is determined in accordance with each individual's academic achievements and experience. Currently a GS-11 starts at $64,724 per year and a GS-14 can earn up to $141,715 per year.
Military Astronaut Candidates are detailed to the Johnson Space Center and remain in an active duty status for pay, benefits, leave, and other similar military matters.
- Will NASA send a child into space?
While NASA appreciates the enthusiasm young people have shown in wanting to take part in the Space Program, there are no plans at this time to send children into space. Maybe one day this will be possible, but it will most likely be far in the future when space travel becomes an everyday occurrence.
NASA has many programs that allow children to become involved with NASA and learn more about space. Information on these programs is available at the following websites: