How Long Does It Take To Become an Astronaut?

Professionals with expertise in space exploration include astronauts. 

Numerous behind-the-scenes tasks prepare astronauts for space flight, even though going to space is their most well-known and obvious job responsibility. 

People who aspire to be astronauts can be assured that the rigorous training and preparation held in advance of space travel will adequately prepare them to meet the high demands of being one of the few people to live and work in space.

This article will take you through who an astronaut is, how long it takes to become an astronaut and the education requirements. Stay tuned, as some of your frequently asked questions will also be given prompt answers.

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What is an Astronaut?

The translation of “astronaut” is “sailor among stars.” An astronaut is a person who participates in a space program and is mainly prepared and outfitted for space travel. 

NASA, also known as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has employed astronauts as a component of the American space program since 1959. 

Any crew member of a NASA spacecraft or NASA Astronaut Corps member is referred to as an “astronaut” by NASA. 

From a wide range of applicants with various backgrounds, NASA chooses astronauts. 

Only a few applicants are selected for the rigorous astronaut candidate training program out of the thousands that apply. 

Although there is no minimum age requirement, American astronauts typically range in age from 26 to 46, with an average age of 34.

A 16-year-old female candidate preparing for a mission to Mars is the youngest candidate admitted. 

Early American astronauts were military members with engineering degrees and experience piloting jet aircraft. 

Scientist-astronauts were added in 1964 and needed a doctorate in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, or medicine. 

Typically, civilian space agencies or military branches like the Air Force or Space Force train astronauts. 

Although a master’s degree is still necessary for NASA astronauts, civilian teachers, doctors, journalists, and other professionals can now apply. 

Commercial astronauts have only recently been added as the number of commercially funded space missions has increased.

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Is Attending an Astronaut School Worth It?

Yes, it is worth it. STEM programs are necessary since astronauts frequently maintain the International Orbit Station and conduct scientific studies while in space, which of course, calls for expertise in engineering and/or computer science. 

After their education, astronauts must have at least two years of relevant job experience and a graduate degree. 

Aside from becoming an astronaut, many other jobs in the space industry may also be of interest, such as those held by astronomers, astrophysicists, and robotics engineers. 

Having degrees in these areas might enable you to work in fascinating space-related occupations.

What Schooling Do You Need to Become an Astronaut?

The NASA Astronaut Selection Board examines potential astronaut candidates first. 

If chosen as an astronaut candidate, they will train for two years at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, preparing to participate in national or international space missions. 

The selection process for a space mission is followed, often for years. Astronauts support other NASA initiatives by working on the ground when they aren’t in space. 

An astronaut receives training to operate or fly a spacecraft. To participate in American or multinational space missions, they are typically chosen and trained at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. 

After training is finished, you must be chosen for a mission. 

Mission tasks could include:

  • directing choices 
  • control of spacecraft 
  • carrying out experiments 
  • upkeep of the spacecraft 
  • providing crew members with medical and emergency services 
  • To maintain the spacecraft, you must walk in space. 
  • taking care of a space station 
  • controlling machinery and robotic arms 
  • exercise every day 
  • completing duties in a collaborative environment

Both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in a relevant STEM field—such as engineering, biology, physical science, computer science, or math—must be held by applicants. 

Additionally, NASA considers those who have finished a test pilot school program, have a Ph.D. degree in medicine or are at least two years into a doctoral program. 

Overall, astronauts often complete six years or more of postsecondary education, perhaps even longer if they have a doctorate.

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How Long Does It Take To Become a Licensed Astronaut?

Astronauts must finish two years of basic training in addition to their six years of education and two years of professional experience. All of this amounts to nearly ten years of planning. 

After that, it might take months or years before astronauts can leave for their first space journey. Astronauts must complete sophisticated mission training before they leave Earth, which better prepares them for space travel.

How Hard Is It to Become an Astronaut?

Every four years, NASA hires new astronauts, and many individuals apply. 6,000 applicants sought to be astronauts in 2013, but NASA chose only eight. 

And only 12 out of the staggering 18,300 applicants for the class of 2017 were accepted, which is an acceptance rate of less than 1%. 

For NASA’s class of 2017, only 12 out of 18,300 astronaut applicants were selected, representing an acceptance rate of less than 1%. 

Being an astronaut is not a simple journey. It will be some time before you leave Earth, even if NASA accepts your application. 

You must first finish two years of basic training. That covers both in-class learning and physical training.

To interact with the Russian Mission Control Center and learn about spacecraft and the science applied to space stations, astronaut candidates study Russian. 

Training astronauts must also pass physical examinations. They must complete three laps of swimming in a pool while donning a flight suit and obtain scuba certification. 

Additionally, they must complete military training in land and water survival, which is crucial for crises. 

Last but not least, students need to practice in simulators that let them become acclimated to both high and low atmospheric pressures.

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How Much Does It Cost to Become a Licensed Astronaut?

To become an astrophysicist, you need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields: physical science, biological science, mathematics, or engineering. 

Depending on several circumstances, a university year can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $45,000 (and more) (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included). 

A doctorate costs about $30.000 per year, while a master’s degree can cost you between $30.000 and $120.000. However, an advanced degree is preferred. 

A private pilot license costs about $10.000; thus, prospective pilots should ideally have at least 1.000 hours of pilot-in-command experience in jet aircraft.

Salary and Job Outlook for Astronaut after Study

The amount of experience, the number of responsibilities assigned, and the kind of agency a person works for all significantly impact astronaut pay. 

Astronauts just starting in the field are known as GS-11 candidates, and their salaries start at around $64,724 per year, while more experienced Astronauts, known as GS-14, have the potential to make over $141,715 per year. 

It is a very competitive field for astronauts because there aren’t many openings. 

Once employed in this field, there are more prospects for growth, and it can develop into a very secure profession. 

Higher education and perseverance are required for those who want to work as astronauts to enter the field. 

However, people have access to many opportunities after being hired as an astronaut.


A job in space requires a lot of selection. A prospective astronaut must complete all NASA requirements and ten years of training. Even if the possibilities of being hired by NASA are minimal, if that is your ambition and dream, it is worth trying. This highly sought-after position has the potential to alter everything genuinely.

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Frequently Asked Questions 

What does an astronaut do? 

Astronauts are highly skilled individuals who can operate a spacecraft, travel in one, and perform tasks connected to human space exploration. 
Pilots and mission specialists are the two main categories of astronauts. 
These latter are in charge of carrying out experiments, caring for spacecraft and equipment, and launching satellites. 

Pilot astronauts are the pilots of the international space station and the space shuttle and are in charge of the mission’s success, the crew’s safety, and the trip’s logistics. 
Remember that an astronaut spends most of their career through rigorous training. Astronauts work for the federal government as civil servants.

What do astronauts get paid? 

According to NASA, civilian astronauts might earn anywhere from $66,000 to $145,000 annually. 
However, as many astronauts are military veterans, their pay would be somewhat different. 
For instance, a military astronaut may expect to make about $96,000 annually after 8 years of service and $124,000 annually after 20. 
Depending on the military astronaut’s level, the remuneration will also vary.

How popular are astronauts today? 

One of the highest in the world, if not the highest, is the competition to become an astronaut. 
There aren’t many openings in the country, and not many applicants can fulfill all the requirements and pass the tests. 
There are now 45 active American astronauts and 28 other astronauts working for NASA but not qualified for flight assignments.

How much training is required to become an astronaut? 

A bachelor’s degree will take you four years to complete, a master’s degree two to three years, and a doctorate between four and six years. 

U.S. citizenship and the ability to pass the NASA long-duration space flight physical are required (there are minimum requirements for blood pressure, standing height, and visual acuity). 
The applicants must have at least three years of experience in their field (for non-pilots). 
Candidates for pilot positions should have logged at least 1,000 hours as pilots-in-command in jet aircraft. 

While the interviewing, orientation and medical examination processes take a week, astronaut training takes years and never truly ends.


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