Feeds

6,300 wannabe astronauts flood NASA inbox

Second-highest number of applications since 1978

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

NASA has received the second-highest number of astronaut applications ever for the 21st astronaut class when more than 6,300 people signed up to be space invaders.

NASA astronaut Mike Fossum in spacewalk training

NASA astronaut Mike Fossum in spacewalk training. Credit: NASA

The US space agency usually receives around 2,500 to 3,500 applications when it announces astronaut vacancies - but between 15 November and 27 January, NASA fielded the most candidates since 1978, a year in which 8,000 people applied to boldly go.

The successful candidates will get two years of initial training, where they'll be taught a raft of astro-abilities including fiddling with space station systems, Russian and a few spacewalking skills.

However, the eager applicants are going to have some time to wait before they find out if they will be in the queue to blast off the planet, since the final candidates won't be chosen until the spring of 2013.

"We will be looking for people who really stand out," said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Selection Board. "Our team not only will be looking at their academic background and professional accomplishments but also at other elements of their personality and character traits - what types of hobbies they have or unique life experiences. We want and need a mix of individuals and skills for this next phase of human exploration."

Whitson didn't mention – although it's implied by the long application process – that patience is going to be a large part of the astronaut game.

Even when the dollars were flowing, frequent trips past Earth's atmosphere weren't really a part of the NASA 'nauts life – it was more like every two or three years. Now that the agency has retired the space shuttles and the government is cutting funding left, right and centre, the current crop of candidates can expect to see space about once every 10 years when they head to the International Space Station.

However, NASA is ever hopeful that Space X and other commercial outfits will pick up the slack and get some regular blast-offs going.

"Our newest astronauts could launch aboard the first commercial rockets to the space station, the next generation of scientists and engineers who will help us reach higher and create an American economy that is built to last," said NASA administrator Charles Bolden. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.