Ask a group of school children what they want to be when they grow up and you'll always find the kid who wants to be an astronaut. Who wouldn't? It's one of the most prestigious jobs in the world and gives people the opportunity to boldly go where few have gone before. But space is a brutal, desolate environment where tiny mistakes can be the difference between life and death. That's why prospective astronauts have to go through one of the most rigorous training processes in the world.
It's not easy being an astronaut, but becoming one might actually be the hardest part of the job. Training for space travel is no joke, and the NASA training process aims to prepare astronauts for all sorts of situations. Space exploration is still in its infancy, so there are plenty of things that can go wrong. This is especially true for new recruits who have the chance at being the first to do all sorts of amazing things, including pioneering the first manned mission to Mars. If you've ever been curious what is astronaut training like, these are all the steps that our space cadets must take in order to catch a flight to the stars.
The first major hurdle to becoming an astronaut is the rigorous selection process. It's a dream job for millions of people, and thousands of candidates throw their names in the ring whenever there's an opening. The process includes submitting résumés, school transcripts, and proving you have at least three years of professional experience related to the position for which you are applying.
Military experience is a big plus, and most candidates are experts in their respective fields. Potential recruits are subjected to a week of nonstop interviews and medical examinations to determine if they are qualified for training. Candidates also have to pass a thorough background test and attend an orientation.
NASA employs some of the brightest minds in the entire world, so you're going to have to step up your game if you want to go to space. The space agency requires that all applicants acquire at minimum a bachelor's degree in one of these related fields: mathematics, physical science, biology, or engineering. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including earth sciences such as geology. Without a relevant degree, there is zero chance your application will be accepted.
Book smarts will only get you so far when it comes to becoming an astronaut. Life in space, even for a brief amount of time, can be extremely stressful on the body. All recruits are subject to an intense physical examination that determines whether your body is up to the challenge. You must have 20/20 vision, although glasses are acceptable if they completely correct your vision. Blood pressure levels are monitored as well, and there is a height range of 62 to 75 inches for all prospective astronauts.
Humans aren't really designed to spend months on end cooped up in small, metal tubes. Space travel can be psychologically exhausting, as astronauts spend week after week isolated with coworkers whom they might not really know very well.
All astronauts must have a healthy psychological profile in order to qualify for training. This includes having great teamwork and communication skills. Astronauts also have to be ready to adapt to new circumstances at a moment's notice, often due to emergency situations.