How to become an Astronaut

How to become an Astronaut

How to become an Astronaut
Santosh Dhamala

Space exploration offers the chance to work together on a broader purpose regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or gender, in addition to enabling the discovery of new worlds and the development of cutting-edge technology. Professional space travellers call themselves astronauts. Only a few jobs are available for people with the required experience and physical and mental requirements, making the posts extremely competitive.

If you are interested in space exploration, this article will provide you with initial guidance on becoming an astronaut.

Who is an Astronaut?

An astronaut is a person who has been trained, equipped and deployed by a human spaceflight program as a commander or crew member aboard a spaceship. Individuals from the Soviet Union and Russia who have been trained to go into space are referred to as "cosmonauts." Those from China are referred to as "taikonauts." Today, two types of astronauts are chosen for space missions: 

Mission Specialist Astronauts: Mission Specialist Astronauts collaborate with pilots to conduct experiments, launch satellites, and keep spacecraft and equipment in good working order. Their educational background could be in engineering, science, or medicine. They can also serve as astronaut educators, encouraging students to join the space program.

Pilot Astronauts: Pilot astronauts are the commander and pilots of the International Space Station and the space shuttle. They are responsible for the safety of the flight, the crew, and the mission.

What are the roles and responsibilities of an Astronaut?

On spacecraft or the International Space Station, astronauts gather information and conduct experiments. They also do tests on the spaceship to create fresh ideas for engineering, vehicle design, and extraterrestrial navigation. They are responsible for a variety of tasks, such as:

  • Getting ready for spacewalks to set up new equipment or carry out up-in-space maintenance 
  • Carrying out scientific experiments in the disciplines of chemistry, material science, biology, physics, meteorology, and geology
  • Researching and testing new technologies for use in space exploration or space habitats 
  • Communicating with mission control to report on any findings or problems that occur while the mission is being carried out 
  • Running tests to evaluate the performance of the crew members under pressure
  • Researching and developing robotics in conjunction with engineers on Earth 
  • Conducting scientific experiments in space to aid scientists in their understanding of phenomena in microgravity environments
  • Preparing for emergencies such as fires, cabin depressurization, solar flares, loss of communication with Earth, loss of oxygen supply, and other threats to astronaut and mission safety 
  • Tracking the system status of spacecraft and identifying faults or anomalies

Qualities to be an Astronaut 

Technical skills

In order to operate sophisticated equipment and carry out scientific investigations in space, astronauts need technical expertise. Their technical skills can help them fix equipment and handle issues in space.

Communication skills

 Astronauts interact with ground control, other astronauts, and mission control using their communication skills. They also use their communication skills to relay mission information and answer general questions. 

Problem-solving skills

 Problem-solving abilities are required for astronauts to make quick decisions in emergencies. They also use these abilities to analyse data and decide on the best course of action to complete their mission. Astronauts must also be problem solvers to troubleshoot technical issues on spacecraft and space stations.

Physical fitness

Astronauts require physical fitness to maintain their physical health while in space. They must be able to carry out their responsibilities while also maintaining a healthy weight. Physical fitness skills also assist them in preparing for the rigorous training required to become an astronaut. 

Leadership skills

An astronaut's leadership abilities can come in handy when they are in charge of a team of other astronauts. Leadership abilities can assist an astronaut in providing direction, motivating their team, and ensuring everyone works effectively. 

Language requirements

 You must be fluent in English to be an astronaut. Basic Russian and Chinese will be useful because it is used on the International Space Station alongside English.

Relevant experience

Different types of astronaut positions have different experience requirements. A few examples of these requirements are pilots, mission control experts, payload specialists, etc.

Steps to Become a Successful Astronaut

  • Build a solid foundation in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology during high school.
  • Pursue a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering, aeronautics, or STEM in engineering, biology, computer science, or Math.
  • Obtain specialisation with Postgraduate and doctorate in the same stream.
  • Apply for candidate selection examination held by NASA or other organisations to recruit scientists and astronauts.
  • Get in your peak physical shape to pass the astronaut physical test
  • Participate in training experience programs. The program includes basic training, wilderness survival, mountaineering, land navigation, water survival, scuba diving, parachuting, space survival, robotics, mission-specific, and emergency medical training.
  • Receive specialised training for the specific role. A mission specialist, for example, will be trained in the specific field in which they will work, such as robotics or medicine. A pilot will be trained in the vehicle in which they will fly.
  • Some roles require previous experience in the respective field. 

Degree Programs for Astronaut

Bachelor’s degree programs

Bachelor of Technology in Electrical Engineering,

Bachelor of Technology in Aerospace Engineering,

Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering,

Bachelor of Technology in Electronics Engineering,

Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering,

Bachelor of Technology in Robotic Engineering,

Bachelor of Technology in Computer Engineering

Bachelor of Technology in Mechatronics 

Bachelor of Technology in Aeronautics

Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics

Bachelor of Science in Physics

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

Bachelor of Science in Mathematics

Bachelor of Science in Biology

Master degree program

Master of Technology in Electrical Engineering

Master of Technology in Aerospace Engineering

Master of Technology in Civil Engineering

Master of Technology in Electronics Engineering

Master of Technology in Mechanical Engineering

Master of Technology in Robotic Engineering

Master of Technology in Computer Engineering

Master of Technology in Mechatronics 

Master of Technology in Aeronautics

Master of Science in Astrophysics

Master of Science in Physics

Master of Science in Chemistry

Master of Science in Mathematics

Master of Science in Biology

Master of Science in Biochemistry

Master of Science in Geology

Salary of an Astronaut

The salary of an astronaut is determined by their employment status and rank in the military or their expertise as a civilian. Civilian astronaut salaries at NASA range from $104,898 to $161,141 per year. Aside from a salary, astronauts are entitled to other benefits such as health care, travel, paid holidays, insurance, etc. Below is a list of how much astronauts make at different organisations.


Average annual income of an astronaut

National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Space X


European Space Agency



6,000,000 Rubles

Indian Space Research Organisation

INR 755,468

Canadian Space Agency

CAD 115,213

China National Space Administration

CNY 191,818

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency


Advantages and Disadvantages of Becoming Astronaut


  • High salary
  • Global and societal recognition and respect 
  • Chance to work with brightest minds and advanced technologies
  • Opportunity to experience and see things that only a few people on Earth will have the opportunity to do


  • Most astronauts suffer from health issues such as bone loss, impairment of blood vessels, and muscle weakness.
  • They have to deal with isolation and stress
  • Exposure to radiation 
  • Long and gruelling years of training
  • Separation from family and friends.
  • High risk of injury or death during mission
  • Long working hours
  • Too much competition in selection programs
  • Too much pressure for mission success

Career as an Astronaut

The prestige, adventure, and money that come with being an astronaut make it a popular career. Astronauts work a 40-hour week on average, but they may be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They frequently have to leave their homes for mission assignments and training. They may work long hours for several days during a mission, followed by several days off. Astronauts must be able to deal with the stress of working long hours, being separated from family and friends, and the possibility of injury or death.

Job Titles

  • Commander
  • Pilot
  • Payload Commander
  • Mission Specialist
  • Flight Engineer
  • Educator
  • Payload Specialist
  • Spaceflight Engineer
  • Descent module monitor astronaut

Recruiting organisations

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Space X
  • European Space Agency
  • Roscosmos
  • Indian Space Research Organisation
  • Canadian Space Agency
  • China National Space Administration
  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
  • Australian Space Agency
  • Iranian Space Agency
  • Korea Aerospace Research Institute
  • The United States Space Force

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How to become an Astronaut: FAQS

Does being an astronaut involve travelling? 

It is not necessary to travel to pursue a career as an astronaut. It is infrequent for an astronaut to work outside their laboratory. Individuals who choose a career as an astronaut working in space stations must travel to space to complete missions. 

What is the nature of an astronaut's job?

 Individuals interested in a career as an astronaut can find work on both a permanent and contract basis.

What qualifications must one meet to be hired by NASA? 

Applicants must first have a bachelor's degree in science, technology, engineering, or math. Prior work experience in the same field is also required. You should know that NASA has previously trained astronauts from various backgrounds, including medical doctors, veterinarians, oceanographers, and others.

Which degree program is the most suitable? 

We would not recommend one academic field over another or specify which might be more relevant in the future. Choose a field of study that interests you; this will ensure that you are prepared to do something personally satisfying whatever path your career takes. Engineering, Biological Science, Physical Science, Computer Science, or Mathematics are the degree fields that qualify. 

Is prior flight experience required?

Flight experience is not required. To meet the minimum qualification requirement, the Astronaut Candidate Program requires either two years of related professional experience or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Typically, jet aircraft experience is obtained through the military. Any type of flying experience, military or private, is advantageous.

What kinds of hazards do astronauts face on the job? 

Launch poses the most significant risk because of its high power and acceleration. Astronauts also face a constant threat of meteorite impacts, radiation, and system failures such as fire, ammonia breakthrough, or depressurisation once in orbit.

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