Special Report

30 Special Skills You Need to Become an Astronaut

Source: Santhosh George Kulangara / NASA

1. Getting accustomed to weightlessness/space walking

Astronaut candidates must get used to weightlessness and learn what it is like to walk in space. The vessel stays within Earth’s orbit and its series of elliptical journeys can make passengers sick.

Source: fizkes / iStock via Getty Images

2. Leadership skills

NASA looks favorably on those who have developed leadership skills. Candidates should note any particular qualifications or training in these areas on their application.

Source: Robert Markowitz / NASA

3. Experience in piloting jet aircraft

Prospective astronauts need three years of related professional experience, or 1,000 hours, of “pilot-in-command” jet pilot experience. That’s because the agency believes flying experience fosters decision-making and judgment skills applicable to being an astronaut and improves chances of survival in space. All of the first class of NASA astronauts were jet pilots.

Source: DNY59 / Getty Images

4. At least a bachelor’s degree

Even though many astronauts have advanced university degrees, NASA only requires that astronaut candidates have a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Degrees in fields such as nursing, exercise physiology, and such social sciences as geography or archaeology won’t qualify you to go into space.

Source: NASA / Ames – Eric James

5. Mastery in scientific scrutiny

Astronauts should be relentless in their research. NASA astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, M.D returned to Earth earlier this year after spending seven months onboard the International Space Station. During that time, she conducted hundreds of experiments on how microgravity enables scientific inquiry that is not possible on Earth. She shared her findings at the International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development Conference in Atlanta over the summer.

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