Thanks for joining us! You can apply to be an astronaut until Feb. 18 on USA Jobs:

We are recruiting for NASA’s newest class of astronauts, AMA.

Today, NASA opened the application process for a new class of astronauts. The next class may fly on any of four different U.S. vessels during their careers: the International Space Station, two commercial crew spacecraft currently in development by U.S. companies, and NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle. We are here to answer your questions about applying, the selection process, and the job.


  • Shannon Walker, NASA Astronaut
  • Anne Roemer, NASA Manager for Astronaut Selection

Find out if you meet the requirements

Apply now

Get more info


Comments: 296 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

horsebeer39 karma

With current NASA technology, how many parsecs would it take for a team to make the Kessel Run?

JSCNASA85 karma

NASA is not going to be using their technology to smuggle spice. -SW

VeryLittle35 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

I'm a current physics PhD student and I've already started my application :D

The requirements state that a bachelors in a STEM field plus 3 years of experience is needed (with a masters counting as 1 year and a PhD counting as 3 years). As a current grad student who hasn't completed his PhD yet I want to ask: does PhD research qualify as 'progressive work experience?'

If not, what's the best thing I can do in my career to improve my chances for the next time the application opens?

JSCNASA12 karma

In these really specialized cases, we recommend that you contact the astronaut selection office at [email protected].

suaveitguy23 karma

Any advice for 10 year olds to get the ball rolling on preparing to be an astronaut?

JSCNASA17 karma

It's all about doing well in school. -SW Pick something that you like and then you will be good at it and stand out. - SW & AR

suaveitguy16 karma

How many astronauts never get to the big show?

JSCNASA27 karma

The expectation is that when you are selected, you will fly. And, our training program is designed to prepare everyone who is selected to fly in space. -SW & AR

suaveitguy15 karma

Who is the astronaut with the most unconventional background?

JSCNASA14 karma

We have astronauts with all different kinds of backgrounds - from a vet, to an oceanographer, military test pilots, medical doctors, etc. -SW & AR

gcnovus15 karma

Computer Science is listed as one of the applicable STEM fields, but I don't see any astronauts with a CS background. (Reed Wiseman has a BS in Computer and Systems Engineering.) Does that mean that a CS background is not as highly regarded as others? Or is it merely a statistical anomaly (easily explained by the small sample size)?

Relatedly, is there non-degree academic work in addition to the minimum BS that NASA considers positive? For example, completion of online aerodynamics courses.

JSCNASA14 karma

Not all computer science degrees are equal. The experience after the degree is equally as important. -SW

rudolfvdv13 karma

I'm a 29 year old web designer born in Amsterdam, living in Brussels. On a scale from 1 to a million, how unlikely is it that I'll ever be an astronaut, even if I gave it everything I've got?

JSCNASA29 karma

This is a NASA selection, so we do require U.S. citizenship. You would need to contact the European Space Agency for their application requirements.

spacelover1113 karma

Can geologists become astronauts?

JSCNASA12 karma

Yes! We have several. -SW

bertonvite9 karma

shannon Walker, what would you say was the most difficult part about becoming an astronaut, both from a physical and mental standpoint?

JSCNASA22 karma

For me, patience, because it took me 5 application cycles before I was selected. -SW

iheartkanye9 karma

Would NASA appreciate if I made a music video for my application or no?

JSCNASA19 karma

Not necessary. -AR But if you do, please use tag #BeAnAstronaut -PAO

themeaningofhaste8 karma

What excellent timing, thanks for doing this!

I know that there haven't been a lot of astronomers who have gotten the position in the past, as it's not really the most desirable skill for going into space (even though many people seem to think it is!). So, as someone who's spent a lot of their life working in astronomy and is working on applying right now, what tips do you have so that I can make my application more appealing? How does that apply for other people in STEM fields who may not feel their particular expertises are suited for the position of astronaut?

JSCNASA7 karma

NASA is looking for people who are not just qualified in their field, but have a variety of skills and interests. A varied background will help your application stand out. Good luck! -SW

JSCNASA4 karma

NASA is looking for applicants with a wide variety of skills. A diverse background will help your application stand out. Good luck! -SW

bertonvite8 karma

How many applicants on average does NASA receive? What is the acceptance rate, average educational level, and average years of professional work experience?

JSCNASA12 karma

On average, we receive about 2,000 applicants. But for the most recent application, we received more than 6,000 applications and 8 were selected. Historically, you have less than 1% chance of being selected. -AR & SW

AsCan1238 karma

Thank you for doing this IAmA. This is incredibly exciting and truly inspirational for the younger generation to see steps being taken towards getting to Mars. I have a few questions.

What would you say separates "highly qualified" applicants from "qualified" applicants? What skills do you like to see outside of the workplace?

What is the medical exam like?

Would getting a private pilots license be beneficial?

JSCNASA5 karma

The diversity of experiences is what separates the highly qualified from qualified. Experience that demonstrates good leadership, good followership and good decision making. - AR & SW

NickNumero8 karma

I was reading NASA's applicant requirements for becoming a new astronaut, and saw that the height range is 5'2" to 6'3". I meet all the other requirements, but I happen to be 6'5". Is this really a deal breaker? This is the first time in my life where I wished I was shorter.

JSCNASA8 karma

If you meet all the minimum requirements, you should apply. If invited for an interview, the physical and medical aspects will be reviewed on an individual basis. - AR

Ministry_Eight6 karma

Just submitted my application! I have a B.A. in Aquatic Biology and ~5 years of experience teaching science, doing research in labs and in the field, and as a Peace Corps volunteer.

How heavily is experience weighted over having a graduate degree? What metrics do you use to classify an application as 'highly qualified' vs just 'qualified'?


JSCNASA6 karma

Applications are reviewed on an individual basis and there are many factors involved. Experience is equally as important as your degree. Good luck! -PAO

PezzR6 karma

Does NASA have any need of Molecular biologists?

JSCNASA7 karma

Yes! Astronaut and biochemist Peggy Whitson will be traveling to the International Space Station next year. -SW

ChristopherLusardi5 karma

Shannon, what years did you apply to the Astronaut Candidate program? How many times did you get interviewed? Is it socially bad, good, or doesn't matter if a person gets hired on the first time they apply?

JSCNASA6 karma

94, 96, 98, 2000 and 2004. I was interviewed each time. It does not matter how many times you apply. Each selection looks for different skill sets. - SW

to_outer_space5 karma

I'm an overweight electrical/software engineer. I'm otherwise healthy and posess an active FAA class III. By when must I lose the excess weight (assuming I get past the basic qualification phase)?

Edit: Also, from I see that an FAA medical is required. Which class is required (I, II, or III)?

JSCNASA4 karma

This is not a question we can answer. If invited for an interview, an applicant's medical eligibility will be assessed on an individual basis by our flight medicine team. -AR

abieru4 karma

I finish my undergraduate studies in Electromechanic Engineering in three semesters (hopefully)

I have two years of experience teaching english to spanish speakers of all ages already, so I was wondering if apart from the mandatory 3 years of experience, an additional technical course would raise one's chances. (I'm thinking of courses like Welding, Industrial Maintenance, Electrical Controls, Air Conditioning Systems, etc)

If not, what kind of skills would you find in an exceptional candidate's CV?

JSCNASA8 karma

We do need people with a wide mix of skills. Those additional courses could potentially be beneficial, but it would really depend on how you use them following your degree... -SW

stickman574 karma

I am a sixty year old kid... Would love to fly as a payload specialist! I do have two days of centrifuge training with Virgin Galactic at Nastar . Did well in that higher than normal gravity environment. I am a machinist by trade and can fix anything....anything!! So what's next in the process?

JSCNASA3 karma

We no longer have payload specialists. And, next step is to apply! -SW

_emptypond4 karma

Hi Ms. Walker and Ms. Roemer,

First I wanted to say that I was surprised and excited to learn about the Astronaut Candidate opening when I went onto USAJobs this morning. This is wonderful news!

I have a few questions:

  1. On the USAJobs posting, the second requirement - “At least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience obtained after degree completion OR at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.” – can you elaborate more on this. Does graduate school count for some of this time and/or internships?

  2. In relation to that first question, what if one does have a degree that meets the first requirement but has since worked in an unrelated field?

  3. What are the anthropometric requirements for a male and female applicant? Is there a certain height requirement that needs to be met? Is there a minimum age requirement as well?

  4. A lot of jobs close after a certain amount of applicants apply on USAJobs – is this the case for the Astronaut position?

  5. When do you think the next time a posting like this will come about – especially for the younger folks who want to apply but miss some of the requirements?

Thank you for your time! I definitely plan to apply.

JSCNASA5 karma

  1. An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience as follows: master’s degree = 1 year of experience, doctoral degree = 3 years of experience.
  2. The related experience must be related to STEM, but not necessarily what you earned your degree in.
  3. If you are selected as a finalist, an individualized assessment will be done. There are no age restrictions.
  4. This job posting will close on Feb. 18.
  5. There are a lot of factors that go into it, but the past few years, we have selected a new class of astronauts about every 4 years. -SW & AR

nevadawolf033 karma

What's tougher in astronaut training; The mental or physical aspects?

JSCNASA3 karma

That depends on one's personality. Most astronauts are both mentally and physically tough! = ) -SW

baileygrib3 karma

What is the one thing about becoming an astronaut that the general public doesn't know about but should?

JSCNASA8 karma

The intense work and training doesn't stop once you get selected. -SW

QuantumSum3 karma

Hello. I am currently a Sophomore doing physics and switching to aerospace engineering. I am projected to graduate in 2020 because I am taking a year off to work and gain more experience. Although I am not eligible now, can you predict if there will still be opportunities by the time 2020 comes?

JSCNASA5 karma

There are a lot of factors that go into it, but the past few years, we have selected a new class of astronauts about every 4 years. -SW & AR

vesoop3 karma

What is the age limit? I am currently 19 and a sophomore in college and being an astronaut has always been a dream of mine.

I am currently planning on majoring in Management Information Systems because I found that the coursework for engineering and other science degrees was more than I am capable of so I thought with MIS, it would be a good balance of computer science, business, and management, which I enjoy and am interested in.

I realize that this is not purely STEM and more of a hybrid major, so what else do you recommend I do in order to get up to speed for the requirements and improve my chances?

JSCNASA5 karma

There are no minimum or maximum age requirements, so just focus on getting the qualifying degree and experience you need. -AR

vesoop3 karma

Thanks for the response but just to clarify, what else would you recommend I do in addition to my major to further increase my chances?

JSCNASA3 karma

A variety of experience after your degree is equally as important as your degree. -SW

Srav1233 karma

Would commercial pilots be considered in the future as potential candidates for the astronaut corps? Does it put you at a disadvantage compared to those who are military test pilots?

JSCNASA3 karma

Yes, you can be considered now. You would need at least 1,000 PIC time in jet aircraft. It would not put you at a disadvantage. There are 2 international astronauts who are commercial pilots, fyi. - AR & SW

Just-Talk3 karma

What's that special personality trait that makes all the astronaut you've selected stand out?

JSCNASA4 karma

There isn't just one. We have a diverse mix and that is what makes the astronaut corps successful! - SW

infinitempg3 karma

I'm a physics undergrad who would love to apply to be an astronaut... but I have really bad motion sickness. How can I contribute in the future even if it means I don't get thrown into space?

JSCNASA4 karma

NASA is always looking for talented people. Please visit -SW

ChristopherLusardi3 karma

Shannon, what did you write about in your essay when you were interviewed by the Selection Board, details?

JSCNASA6 karma

I've had the pleasure of writing 5 essays. Each time I wrote something different. -SW

bstrain713 karma

I am an active duty military officer and the application seems worded to veterans who are either already separated or have a known future separation date. What if I don't know my separation date yet? How do I annotate this on my application?

JSCNASA3 karma

Active duty military need to apply to the USA Jobs announcement and follow any specific procedures outlined by their service branch. -AR

ChristopherLusardi3 karma

Can you give me an exact event or date for when NASA will know exactly how many astronauts will be hired in 2017?

JSCNASA3 karma

The day they are announced. - AR & SW

Scotthiggins3 karma

Hi guys, Thanks for answering questions for the uninitiated. I'm a helicopter pilot and flight instructor. Entry for astronaut pilot is 1000 hours in jet aircraft. Can this be substituted for 1000 hours in rotorcraft? Thanks

JSCNASA4 karma

You can apply, and that is helpful operational experience, but you would not be evaluated as a pilot. -SW & AR

Exo1013 karma


I was going to ask about the requirements you have about an applicant's physical state. Is an old surgical procedure standing on the way?

JSCNASA2 karma

The medical assessments are conducted on a case-by-case basis.

LightJeep3 karma

What would the job of a Computer Systems Engineer as an astronaut be like?

JSCNASA2 karma

Astronauts are trained in all aspects, so you don't only perform your educational specialty. -SW

karatekiiid3 karma

Firstly, thank you to both for doing this AMA!

For Shannon Walker - What did you find to be the toughest or the most enjoyable aspect of training after your application was selected?

JSCNASA3 karma

EVA - is the toughest physically. Russian language was the toughest mentally. Most enjoyable would be training with people from all over the world. -SW

RubberDuckKeychains3 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA!

I follow NASA's Twitter account and have seen quite a bit about becoming an astronaut in the past months. My main question is whether this promotion is to try to inspire younger kids and students, or are y'all mostly actively hiring right now?
As a sophomore in college in the STEM field, I'm incredibly motivated by the thought of one day working for NASA, both in my academics and physical fitness. But knowing that is so far off, I'm just curious whether I'm even your target audience.

JSCNASA5 karma

Yes, we are hiring for astronauts. But we hope this will also inspire the next generation and educate them about the requirements as they decide what they want to concentrate on in school. Absolutely, the requirements are a degree in a STEM field and 3 years of experience. You won't get selected if you don't apply. -SW & AR

spaceguy873 karma

The latest flight director class has former astronaut TJ Creamer so maybe it is time for a flight director turned astronaut? Have any flight directors ever applied before?

JSCNASA3 karma

Yes, they have. -AR & SW

bwall872 karma

What if someone wants to apply but only has a 2 year degree? Why is the 4 year degree a must?

JSCNASA3 karma

Any technical position at NASA requires a 4-year degree from an accredited institution. -AR

JesmasterAgain2 karma

As a current Aerospace engineering Junior planning on going to grad school, when would I be able to apply? I heard some places that I could apply when I was accepted to a doctoral program.

Also, does an emphasis on spacecraft propulsion research for my undergrad put me at a disadvantage compared to other candidates that have experience with space technology and operations? What would you say are some factors that are looked for in potential candidates?


JSCNASA3 karma

The minimum requirements mandate that you have a bachelors degree. And, a doctorate degree can be applied towards your 3 years of additional experience.

sepetoner2 karma

Astronauts and cosmonauts seem to have a theme of being well-rounded in many aspects of life. How important and highly looked upon is a well rounded applicant who not only has technical prowess but also partakes in, and enjoys, other activities such as athletics, weight training, camping, cooking, etc.?

JSCNASA2 karma

The diversity of experiences is what separates the highly qualified from qualified. Experience that demonstrates good leadership, good followership and good decision making. - AR & SW

serialmuncher2 karma

Thank you for taking the time to do this AMA! It says in the faq that 20/20 vision is required, and that glasses are allowed. Does that also pertain to contacts? I am also interested in what the physical evaluation will consist of (for training purposes). Lastly, if I am already a GS-3 will that help or hinder my application in any way? Thank you!

JSCNASA2 karma

Distant and near visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20, each eye.

The refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK and LASIK, are allowed, providing at least 1 year has passed since the date of the procedure with no permanent adverse after effects. For those applicants under final consideration, an operative report on the surgical procedure will be requested.

[deleted]2 karma


JSCNASA2 karma

This is not a question we can answer. Applicants medical eligibility will be assessed on an individual basis by our flight medicine team. -AR

kodasoda2 karma

I just graduated with a bachelors degree in biology, minor in chemistry. I'm 32. My dream is be an astronaut. While I know that I will not be prepared for the current selection, I'm still preparing for the near future. What would you suggest I get my masters in? I feel like I'm pressed for time because I'm older than most college graduates?

Thank you for doing this AMA. I appreciate your time!

JSCNASA3 karma

Astronaut candidates selected in the past have ranged between the ages of 26 and 46, with the average age being 34, so you are right on track. A diverse background is important, and you should get your degree in a STEM-related degree that you are most interested in. -PAO

[deleted]2 karma


JSCNASA2 karma

Yes. - AR

oldmuffinfran2 karma

I'm a high-school student interested in astrophysics and aerospace engineering. What classes would be good to take in high school to prepare for a possible career in space?

JSCNASA2 karma

Math and science courses, and working hard to do well in them! -SW

Dhrax2 karma

Hi I m French guy and love space stuff I have studied electric and mechanic maintenance And work for 5 years in wind turbine industry Which way can it take to become astronaut ? you looking for americans astronauts only or worldwide astronauts ?

JSCNASA5 karma

This is a NASA selection, so we do require U.S. citizenship. You should contact the European Space Agency for their application requirements.