User Reviewed

How to Become an Astronaut

Three Methods:Making the Initial CutSucceeding AcademicallyMaking It Professionally

Even though you warned your parents that you'll disown them if they don't help you become an astronaut, they're still sending you to basketball or soccer camp. Since they're no help, it's wikiHow to the rescue! Keep reading to learn how to start on your path to the next Lagrangian point and literally skyrocket from there.

Method 1
Making the Initial Cut

  1. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 1
    Be a citizen of a country with a space agency capable of sending humans to space. Even if your country does have a space agency, you may be relegated to groundwork and not navigating the skies like you'd prefer. While plenty of countries are getting into the space race in one form or another, Russia, China, EU and the USA are the front runners.[1]
    • The ESA (European Space Agency) collaborates with other agencies to send its astronauts aboard their rockets. Currently, the ESA is made up of twenty countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.[2]
    • NASA has had, in the past, astronauts from countries with which they have an international agreement. Namely, Canada, Japan, Russia, and Brazil. For the record, each of these countries does have a space agency.
  2. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 2
    Be the right age. If you're fresh out of recess or fresh out of the senior citizen's discount buffet, you're not astronaut material. The ESA is looking for candidates who are between 27 and 37 years old.[3] NASA is a bit less stringent; there are no age restrictions, but past astronauts have fallen between the ages of 26 and 46. The average age is 34.
  3. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 3
    Be the right height. Fingers crossed for that growth spurt! The ESA accepts candidates who are between 153 and 190 centimeters (that's 5' to 6'2 1/2" for the non-metric folk).[3] Not too tough, eh?
    • As for NASA, they're looking for men and women between 5'2" and 6'3" (157 to 190.5 cm). Six of one, half a dozen of another, really.
  4. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 4
    Pass the physical with flying colors. In order to become an astronaut for NASA, your near and far vision must be correctable to 20/20 in each eye. Yep, getting LASIK is okay. As for your physical health, your blood pressure must not be above 140/90 when in a sitting position.
    • Note that if you make it past the first rounds of testing, addition visual screening will be performed. To pass this round, your distant vision refractive error must be "between +5.50 and -5.50 diopters in any meridian" if you do not have a piloting background and "between +2.50 and -4.00 diopters in any meridian" if you do have a piloting background. Also notable is the fact that you may not have an astigmatism that requires more than 3.00 diopters of cylinder correction if you're without a piloting background (no more than 2.00 diopters of cylinder correction if you do have one) or an anisometropia larger than 3.5 diopters (2.5 if you have a piloting background).
    • The ESA has similar requirements. They also stress the need to be psychologically sound. After all, other people are going to be locked in a small room with you for months on end. If you're aggressive, close-minded, or stubborn, you may not be deemed fit for travel.[4]
  5. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 5
    Speak English. It's not called the International Space Station for nothin'. Fact of the matter is, most people speak it, and you should, too if you plan on working with people of practically every nationality.
    • Speaking Russian is a helpful tool, too. Second to English, there is a heavy Russian influence when it comes to space relations. Both NASA and the ESA highly value candidates that are fluent in both languages.[5][6]
  6. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 6
    Learn how to swim and swim well. Because of that pesky phenomenon known as gravity, day-to-day air living isn't great for simulating the likes of the universe. Some of your training will be done underwater. If you can't swim, you probably won't make the cut.
    • NASA will put you through military water survival training and make sure you can tread water for 10 minutes in addition to swimming 75 meters (246.1 ft) in a flight suit and being SCUBA-qualified.[5] So sign up for a pass at your local pool now.

Method 2
Succeeding Academically

  1. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 7
    Get excellent grades in high school. Get excellent grades in every subject. All of them. Every single one. Astronauts are a smart breed. Math and science are most important, but English, history, and foreign relations have their places, too. It's best to be as well-rounded as possible. Not only for you, but also because the competition will be fierce. You'll be going up against the cream of the crop.
    • Alright, so you don't have the power to stop time. Since you're not a machine, concentrate on math and science -- you'll be dealing with those for at least the next decade of your career training.
  2. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 8
    Be a stellar student at a good university. A bachelor's degree in math, physics, engineering, or science from a reputable (accredited) school is required. Don't get distracted by college social life — your grades should be your number one concern.
    • Look into the ROTC programs, especially those of the Air Force and Navy at your college of choice. Your ultimate goal in the military is to be a test pilot because they have the most experience flying experimental aircraft.
  3. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 9
    Complete ≥ 3 years of experience work. This can be in the form of professional experience or in the form of a degree. Should you choose to get a degree, know that a master's counts as 1 year of experience and a PhD as 3, regardless of how long it takes you to complete these degrees.
    • If you have experience in piloting, you must complete at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Be sure you also have flight test experience.
    • Should you choose to simply get professional experience, get a job related to something an astronaut would have to do. Examples include navigation, piloting, working with computers, chemistry/biology, or commanding a ship. You should also note that teaching is an important part of being an astronaut, and thus teachers (both college and K-12) are encouraged to apply.

Method 3
Making It Professionally

  1. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 10
    Consider joining the military. While military personnel are by no means considered above regular civilians, it is a means to an end. In the military, you'll get training experience (both physical and mental) and have the opportunity to work with aircraft. Bonus and bonus.
    • NASA will give military personnel contracted appointments. They apply and work through a military program that regular citizens do not.
  2. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 11
    Apply for the job. Note that civilians of the US must submit an application through, and all active duty military personnel must submit an application to their respective service (in addition to the website application).
    • The last round of hiring ESA did for astronauts was in 2009.[7] If you'd like to see how you would've fared, tests are available online.[8] As for NASA, they had their latest round training in Houston as of June 2013.[5] Keep an ear to the ground for the next hiring round!
  3. Image titled Become an Astronaut Step 12
    Be able to complete training. For NASA, training will take place in Texas and will last about 2 years. The ESA will put you through a similar program in Cologne, Germany for 16 months. You'll be working underwater and in simulators in addition to studying space relations and the science behind the technology. There's a heavy emphasis on human mechanics, engineering, and astronomy as well. Both programs will also immerse you in the Russian language.[5][9]
    • As for NASA, civilians who complete the training must remain a NASA employee for 5 years before becoming an astronaut. Military personal will be assigned to a specific NASA duty.


  • Take whatever action you can to always stay involved and on top of the field. Even if it's summer, study up!
  • Work out. Strengthen your body, because it will be tested if you get the job. You train underwater, and an extended period in space actually deteriorates your muscles, because weights aren't worth much in space. Stay in top physical condition.
  • Don't give up! Stay persistent, and keep your ultimate goal in mind. It is very likely that you won't be selected on your first try. Clayton Anderson, a NASA astronaut, was rejected 14 times before being selected for training.
  • Don't jump to the highest goal, take it in steps and you will make it. Also, study well.


  • Noting the above, you can't be grossed out easily working as an astronaut. When you're in a rocket, where do you think the excrement goes?
  • This job isn't for the faint of heart. It's very dangerous. Both the Challenger and Columbia disintegrated, and the Apollo 1 burned out during a normal training, all three accidents killing every single crew member. If you're not harnessed properly, you can drift away into space, or re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. This is not all glamour.
  • While one of the perks of being an astronaut are the moments when you can just sit back and enjoy the breathtaking orbital views, if you'd rather focus your attention on that instead of working, this job may not be for you.
  • If you get bad motion sickness, you may want to consider working on planet Earth.

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Transport Careers