So You Want To Be An Astronaut? cover

So You Want To Be An Astronaut?

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Filling out paperwork ( and sending it to NASA is pretty easy…as a matter of fact, it might even be fun! Passing the rest of the tests and interviews that lie ahead may be a bit more daunting, but the “thrill of the chase” to become an astronaut is exciting and challenging nonetheless!

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So You Want To Be An Astronaut?

Getting Started

Filling out paperwork ( and sending it to NASA is pretty easy…as a matter of fact, it might even be fun!

Putting down on paper (or CD or micro drive…you know, modern technology and all!) all of the wonderful accomplishments you have experienced thus far in your young lives can be an awesome motivator! Passing the rest of the tests and interviews that lie ahead may be a bit more daunting, but the “thrill of the chase” to become an astronaut is exciting and challenging nonetheless!

Clayton C. Anderson

Clayton C. Anderson

Image by NASA

You're In!

So, let’s say you get selected…you are a proud member of the Astronaut Class of 20xx. What awaits you in your early years…what will occupy your time?

Well, first you must relocate to Houston, Texas, a huge and dynamic city with many incredible opportunities. You will report to the beautifully serene campus of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and you will be given a new badge entitling you to the full fledged advantages of civil service employment as a U. S. Government employee.

What Desk?!

You won’t need your desk for awhile as your time will be very structured and you will be expected to learn many things in many different places, such as speaking Russian, performing spacewalks and flying robotic arms!

So perhaps world travel is in your future, like, let’s say, Canada, Japan, Europe and of course Russia! After a couple of years of orientation and basic skills training in various subjects like outdoor survival, SCUBA and public speaking, you will be tapped on your shoulder by management to begin your flight specific training!

Watch The Bubble

Watch The Bubble

Astronaut Clayton Anderson watches as a water bubble floats in the middeck of space shuttle Discovery

during the STS-131 mission. Note that his image in the bubble is upside down because the bubble refracted the light.

12 April 2010

Image by NASA

Don't Sit Still!

Your Frequent Flier account will need to be up-to-date and you’ll want to have that number memorized.

Roughly 4-6 weeks at a time, over an approximate 3 year period, you will be traveling around the world and most often to the hallowed sanctum of the training territory of Star City, Russia, just 45 minutes north east of Moscow. You will be a part of what NASA designates as the astronaut space station training program, known as the “single flow to launch.”

Then, hopefully at some future date, you will be asked to step up to the plate and fly as a prime crew member, which will mean more trips to Star City. It also will mean that your dream of reaching the cosmos, is rapidly approaching (oh, and did I mention that you’ll be urinating in bottles a lot?)!



Clayton Anderson participates in a training session in an International Space Station module mockup at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.



When you do get selected…please accept my sincere congratulations! It’s then the real deal and you’ll have the best job in the universe!

You will part of a select ‘fraternity’ and looking forward to some of the most wonderful challenges of your life!

Your time in Russia will be exciting and tedious…all at the same time. There will be struggles and successes each and every day. Those days will typically be divided into four periods (one hour and 50 minutes each) with a lunch break from 12:50 to 2 p.m. Classes start at 9 a.m. and end just before 6 p.m. The classes occur in the “territory” of Star City, quite similar in functionality to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The territory is about a 10-minute walk from the dorm-like cottages where you will live and is home to the myriad successes of the Russian space program and their famed cosmonauts.

Initial Classes

Your initial classes will be theoretical in nature with some “praktika (hands-on)” training in reasonably high fidelity ISS modules;

the Service Module (SM), the Functional Cargo Block (FGB) … it’s a G and not a C because the Russian word for cargo starts with a G … are you starting to get the picture on the language thing? Eventually, you will be required to enter these training mock-ups and show them what you know (or don’t know!).



NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson floating in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station during Expedition 15.

July 28, 2007

Image by NASA


Much like your days back in college, you will have oral exams (“konsultatziya”) where you are quizzed by your instructors and the engineers who boast of exacting knowledge of each and every system.

Your goal will be to show them where everything is and be able to describe and operate every system in the vehicle! Unless you’re a pretty fluent Russian speaker, your weeks will also include two four-hour sessions of Russian Language training. Hopefully, you are already getting a leg (кога, pronounced “noga”) up on that situation! But be ready … these folks talk so fast!

Up And Away

This may, quite possibly, be one of the hardest things you have ever done.

It is possible that you will miss your family and you may experience anxiety (yes, some astronauts do worry about stuff!) as you become wrapped up in the “newness” of the whole situation. Things will happen really fast at first, but you will settle into a routine, which helps immensely.

You and your family will be living the excitement that is associated with being one of the lucky few to experience life off of our planet’s surface.

New Opportunities

Your lives will be presented with new and wonderful opportunities; you will be interviewed by the newspapers and be on TV!

You will learn of the strength of your family and friends and the joys of sharing together as you begin to understand the importance of your magnificent and “out of this world” adventure.

Now…what are you waiting for??? Boldly go, where few humans have gone before and oh, by the way,…live long and prosper!