Many children dream of growing up to be astronauts or astronauts. People who are interested in space must have wished they were an astronaut. Today we know how an astronaut is made, what qualities a person has to go into space, and how NASA selects astronauts for its missions.
For this very tempting job, future astronauts will have to go through a competitive selection process. For NASA’s astronaut class of 2021, the agency said only 10 candidates were shortlisted from more than 12,000 applicants.
To become an astronaut you need to…
According to NASA, to become an astronaut, you must have American citizenship. Additionally, a master’s degree in a STEM field such as engineering, biology, or computer science is mandatory. To become an astronaut, a person needs to be physically fit to pass NASA’s physical exam. NASA launched its first class in 1959, with more than 350 astronauts.
During the space race, there was fierce competition between the US and the Soviet Union to explore space first. At that time, soldiers were preferred to become astronauts. Even today, the 12 people who set foot on the moon are white. But NASA’s Astronaut Corps now offers opportunities for everyone. For the Artemis mission in 2024, the space agency aims to land the first woman and person of color on the moon.
NASA provides rigorous training
Candidates who are selected to become astronauts are called ASCAN. After this, they are given two years of training so that they can become qualified astronauts. NASA trains its astronauts in different environments such as large ponds and hot deserts to test their skills.
Spacewalks are conducted underwater
Astronauts swim with the spacecraft in a large indoor pool to practice spacewalks. Dive into the pool to experience a microgravity or weightless environment. NASA provides state-of-the-art spacewalk training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. This huge pond holds 62 lakh gallons of water. According to NASA, the environment here is similar to the International Space Station (ISS), so astronauts can practice with hardware in a weightless environment.
‘Vomit Comet’ is operating the plane for zero gravity
Astronauts experience weightlessness by flying the aircraft named ‘Vomit Comet’. NASA’s Gravity Research Program began in 1959. Under this, astronauts are trained by flying in zero gravity in the ‘Vomit Comet’ aircraft. This aircraft also serves as a floating lab. Researchers conduct medical studies and motion sickness experiments on these flights, as the roller coaster-like modes of flight often make astronauts feel sick.
Survival training takes place in the desert
Astronauts are also given desert survival training for emergency landings. Since the original Mercury 7 crew in 1959, NASA astronauts have learned survival techniques. In 1964, the Apollo 11 astronauts traveled to Nevada and spent three days in the dry desert practicing survival skills. The environment here is like an alien, so the training is in the desert. To train for the Artemis Moon rocket mission, NASA will conduct two training fields in the Arizona desert, where the atmosphere will be similar to that of the Moon.
There is also a test of endurance
Astronauts test their endurance for extremely strong gravitational forces in a whirlwind machine.
Mental balance is the most important
While living in space, astronauts come in contact with psychologists so that they can adjust themselves to the stressful environment there. Prospective astronauts undergo psychological and psychiatric screening, so astronauts unfit for space travel are excluded.
Here’s how NASA determines which applicants become astronauts https://t.co/hHdzYhXNCW
— ScienceAlert (@ScienceAlert) November 25, 2022
Going to space is not easy, it is very stressful. In 2016, NASA’s Human Research Program released a report that found crew members had to endure sleep changes, radiation exposure, gravity shifts and isolation. After becoming an astronaut, crew members on the ISS regularly interact with medical staff, including psychologists, via video conference.
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