Special Report

30 Special Skills You Need to Become an Astronaut

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26. Handling pressure well

Given their time in zero gravity, the multitude of tasks asked of them, the loneliness in space, and the possibility that their lives could be snuffed out at any time, astronauts have to deal with a lot of pressure. Because many astronauts have already served as test pilots, they have developed the ability to manage pressure.

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27. Being able to tolerate extreme environments

Astronaut candidates also challenge themselves in situations others would balk at. Some who have been in the military have volunteered for tours in Iraq, while others have exposed themselves to the harsh climate of Antarctica, or done mountain climbing.

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28. Swimming requirements

Astronaut candidates must pass a swimming test in their first month of training. They have to swim three lengths of a 25-meter pool without stopping, then swim the same number of lengths in a flight suit and tennis shoes. Astronauts must also tread water for 10 minutes wearing a flight suit.

Source: NASA / Newsmakers / Getty Images

29. Being prepared for fame

Aspiring astronauts have to also take into consideration that they might become famous. A dose of humility will help dealing with fame. Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, told CBS News journalist Ed Bradley that he didn’t deserve the attention. The media made heroes out of astronauts in the 1960s and 1970s. Today’s astronauts are largely unknown. NASA tries to raise their profile by making astronauts available for interviews and to speak at local events and visit schools.

Source: U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Madison J. Ratley

30. Being good at good press

Aspiring astronauts should work on their public speaking skills. NASA cultivates a pristine image and public relations is an important part of the job.

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