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How to become an astronaut? 2018 Guide

Image of expedition 23 crew members pose for a in-flight crew portrait in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station.

Becoming an astronaut is no easy task, but not impossible. It takes many years of commitment and experience before ever getting the chance to step in to an actual spacecraft. Misconceptions and updated requirements are discussed here. Links for opportunities are at the bottom section of this article.

Retired astronaut Clayton Anderson’s wrote in his biography:

“The fact that I applied to become an astronaut fifteen times has not been lost on my friends, followers, or fans. Jokes and snide remarks have hinged upon the ugly truth that on fourteen of those fifteen attempts I was a complete and abysmal failure. “

The Ordinary Spaceman – Clayton C. Anderson

It is true that becoming an astronaut is hard, but getting into the career path is less-arduous than you might actually think. The research revealed many misconceptions around this topic. In fact, some were more interesting. First, we will look at few of the biggest misconceptions on becoming an astronaut.

    • All astronauts are pilots – Piloting experience is not a requirement, it is an added advantage.
    • Astronauts should be born with perfect vision – 20/20 vision is required when joining the program. Corrective surgical procedures are allowed.
    • Astronauts must have a PhD – Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university is adequate. However academic excellence is considered as a strong point for selection.
    • Military experience is required – Civilians and military applicants are treated equally.

Keep an eye on new projects

SpaceX and Boeing are making headlines and now have become the two main private competitors on reaching mars first. NASA on the other hand, guided by the current US president Donald Trump, has announced a detailed plan on getting humans to Mars by 2033. You can view the detailed plan here.

It won’t be too long until other nations will follow suit for space supremacy. Therefore make sure to read the headlines for future opportunities. (Links to all space agencies are listed below)

Image of 2017 NASA candidates
The 2017 NASA astronaut candidates. Image Source

Common Requirements

Last Updated: Feb 22,2018

Job Description

Astronauts at ISS (International Space Station) currently conduct over 1500 experiments related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. You can find the complete list here.
Other than experiments, all astronauts are expected to:

  • Study the operations of the International Space Station.
  • Repair and maintain systems such as air filters and waste processors.
  • Unload and install shipments of supplies and equipment.
  • Conduct an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) or ‘spacewalk’, strapping on a special suit and leaving the space station in order to repair a damaged component outside.
  • Communicate with people back on Earth to check-in and relay science results.


It is required to have a citizenship in countries where space agencies are available. Other nationals also can be astronauts, provided they obtain citizenship first. The reason behind for this requirement is that national space agencies are public enterprises funded by tax revenues.

SpaceX and Boeing are privately funded enterprises therefore they will consider the best candidates for their proposed space programs irrespective of nationality. It is best to keep an eye on these announcements. (As soon as we hear the news we will update this post and notify via our Twitter and Facebook pages)

Age & Height (Men & Women)

  • NASA does not have an age restriction. However past astronauts are aged between 26 and 46. The height should be between 157 to 190.5 cm.
  • ESA is looking for candidates between 27 and 37 years old. The height should be between 153 to 190 cm.


  • Near and far vision must be correctable to 20/20 in each eye (The refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK and LASIK, are allowed)
  • Blood pressure must not be above 140/90 when in a seated position.Good practice in underwater swimming is required. (military water survival training will be given at the training)


  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics.
  • 3+ years of experience in related fields, 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


  • Proficiency in English is a must.
  • Proficiency in Russian in addition to English is considered as an advantage.


  • On average from $66,026 to $144,566 per year

Here are the links worth checking out


The European Space Agency (ESA)

  • Citizens from following countries are eligible: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
  • Link to ESA Recruitment process

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

Russian Federal Space Agency (Rocosmos)

China National Space Administration

  • Does not publicly disclose recruitment programs


Boeing Aerospace

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