Posted by Crystal Lewis Brown

Astronaut Training 101: How to Make Your Childhood Dream Come True

Growing up, I remember lots of kids wanting to be astronauts. It was the bravest, coolest job in the world (literally). Even now, astronauts are among the top dream jobs for kids. As cool as it looks and as much as we all wanted to be them, we knew it was unlikely we would ever find ourselves calling the International Space Station home. For those who decide they want to make their childhood dreams a reality, however, it takes years of commitment. Here's an inside look at what it takes to become an astronaut.

The Boeing Company

Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin become first humans to step on the moon

Education
No matter how tough it was to get that French degree or MBA, it, unfortunately, won't get you accepted into the astronaut training program. Potential candidates must be U.S. citizens and have a bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or math. They also need at least three years of professional experience or 1,000 hours as a jet pilot-in-command. Candidates also need to be able to pass the NASA long-duration astronaut physical and have correctable vision up to 20/20. They must also have a standing height between 62 and 75 inches. Of course, these are just minimum requirements. The selection process is very strenuous. The Astronaut Selection Board reviews each applicant before inviting the most qualified candidates in for an interview. The board selects about 120 applicants from the thousands who apply. About half of the interviewees are brought in for a second round, which includes a week of personal interviews and a medical screening. Between eight and 14 of those are accepted.

Training
Those who make it past the application process become astronaut candidates and go on to train at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The training and evaluation period lasts two years. Candidates must complete a water survival program, become scuba certified and pass a swimming test. The swimming test consists of swimming three lengths of a 25-meter pool without stopping, swimming three lengths of the pool while wearing a flight suit and treading water continuously for 10 minutes while wearing a flight suit. The suits weigh more than 100 pounds. This water competent is used to help simulate the feeling of weightlessness they will have in space. They also are exposed to high and low pressures and weightlessness. After all this, they're still not astronauts. Candidates graduate successfully only after completing International Space Station systems training, Extravehicular Activity skills training, Robotics skills training, Russian language training, and aircraft flight readiness training.

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Once they become astronauts, they go through even more rigorous training. That training could be an additional two to three years, depending on the length of the mission.

If you still think you have what it takes to become an astronaut, you’re in good company. Last year, NASA received a record 18,300 applicants for the 2017 astronaut class. Of that number, 12 have been selected as candidates and are currently undergoing training. Since NASA only recruits astronauts on an as-needed basis, it’s unlikely they’ll have an opening anytime soon. But keep your eyes open – maybe this will be one childhood dream that comes true.

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