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Photo: Huffington Post

Have what it takes? NASA is hiring its next generation of astronauts

Many people have dreamed of being an astronaut at some point in their lives. But have those people actually sat down and considered the reality of becoming an actual astronaut?

If you think you have what it takes, this is the time to start considering it!

NASA is looking for astronauts to help pave the way to Mars and beyond for the first time since 2011. The agency announced that they will be accepting applications from Dec. 14 through mid-February for people who want to become astronauts, NBC News reports.

“This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement Wednesday. “Those selected for this service will fly on a U.S.-made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station, and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space.”

NASA is hoping to use a spacecraft built by Boeing and SpaceX to carry humans to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral in 2017. There hasn’t been a crewed spaceflight launch from the U.S. since the space shuttle program was shut down in 2011.

NASA is also testing a rocket meant to carry astronauts into deep space in NASA’s Orion capsule. The agency hopes to take the craft to Mars one day.

Currently, there are only 47 people in NASA’s active astronaut corps, according to NBC. The space agency says that more people will be needed to fulfill future missions to the space station and eventually to Mars.

The job of an astronaut is a dangerous one, but it can be extremely rewarding. So what does it take to become one? Well, there are number of requirements.

Candidates must have and do the following:

  • At least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or math
  • At least three years of related professional experience (which can come from backgrounds like engineering, military, medicine, oceanography, etc.)
  • 1,000 hours of in-command flying time in commercial or military aircraft
  • Pass NASA’s long-duration spaceflight physical

There are no age restrictions to apply; however, the average age in the past has been 34. As of now, astronauts pay grades range from $66,000 to $144,566 per year, Huffington Post reports. Not too shabby if you ask me!

Do you want to apply? Get more information here, and take a look at the application timeline below.

December 14, 2015: Vacancy Announcement opens in USAJOBS

February 2016: Vacancy Announcement closes

February-September 2016: Qualified Applications reviewed to determine Highly Qualified applicants. Qualifications Inquiry form sent to Supervisors/References and civilian applicants contacted by mail to obtain an FAA medical exam.

October-December 2016: Highly Qualified applications reviewed to determine Interviewees

February-April 2017: Interviewees brought to JSC for initial interview, medical evaluation, and orientation. Interviewees will be selected from the Highly Qualified group and contacted on a week-by-week basis.

May 2017: Finalists determined

June 2017: Astronaut Candidate Class of 2015 announced

August 2017: Astronaut Candidate Class of 2015 reports to the Johnson Space Center

About Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer
Meredith Rodefer is a freelance writer, who focuses on anything from lifestyle blogging to hard news, and dancer. Beyond Youth Independent, she has written for sites such as Natmonitor.com, CheekyChicago.com and FamilyFocusBlog.com. Contact Meredith: meredith.rodefer@youthindependent.com