NASA made an interesting announcement, they’re looking for new astronauts!
This came as a surprise to me as I’d thought NASA had discontinued all manned missions.
As far as I know the halt on manned missions happened for two reasons, funding is tight and NASA is an obvious thing to cut and we already did the man on the moon thing so why go again?
As to the funding, I’m not sure what’s going on there. Regardless, the missions NASA is planning are scheduled ten years out so the funding situation could be entirely different then.
But what are the new missions?
Not going to Mars like Mark Watney in The Martian, but almost as good!
NASA will be landing an astronaut on an asteroid.
There are a group of asteroids called “near-Earth asteroids” that have orbits around the sun pretty similar to Earth’s orbit.
A couple of the near-Earth asteroids are as big two kilometers across (about a mile).
Before landing a person on an asteroid, NASA plans to land a rover like what they did with the Rosetta space probe on a comet. Then a manned mission will commence in 2025.
I don’t know which asteroid NASA will be landing an astronaut on, there are a whole bunch to choose from. Regardless, this appears to be the next step in manned space exploration.
NASA hopes this will be a stepping stone to manned missions on Mars.
In addition to the work on the asteroids, astronauts are spending longer amounts of time on the ISS. They’re doing this so we can see what precautions need to be taken when someone is in space for years at a time.
A mission to Mars would take a year or two, so we need to be prepared for how someone’s mind and body reacts to being in space for that long.
So enough about why NASA is hiring astronauts, how do I get the job?
If you’re like me, upon hearing the news that NASA is hiring you immediately looked up the qualifications they’re looking for.
They want someone with at least a Master’s degree in science or engineering. I’m working on that, so good so far.
The next big qualification is 1,000 hours of logged jet plane fight time.
If you’re paying for lessons and rental time on a plane that amount of logged time would cost upwards of $50,000. So you either have to be really serious about flying jets recreationally, a commercial flyer, or a member of the airforce.
There are a few other qualifications, but nothing as big as those two.
Obviously I don’t meet that requirement, but maybe some kid is reading this and is thinking, “If I get a Master’s in physics and learn to fly a jet then I’d be ready to apply to be an astronaut by the time NASA starts doing missions to Mars.”
That’s the word from the space world!
If you want to read more about the process for hiring astronauts check out these two links: NASA’s Info Site, NASA’s Hiring Site