NASA had a record breaking 18,300 applicants for astronaut training, but not everyone will make the cut.
Do you think you have what it takes to work in space? According to a report from Discovery News, apparently a lot of people do. More than 18,300 people have submitted applications for NASA’s astronaut training program, which only has 14 available spots.
This year’s applicant pool shattered the previous record of 8,000 in 1978. That year was significant because it was the first call for new astronaut trainees in more than nine years, and the first time NASA would be accepting female applicants.
The space shuttle was NASA’s big project in the late 70’s, and it undoubtedly encouraged more people to take a shot at applying for the space program. With NASA’s preparations for a manned mission to Mars fully underway, it is not a surprise that more people than usual are interested in becoming an astronaut.
NASA accepted applications between December 14 and February 20. This year they got more than three times the number of applications submitted in the last training cycle in 2012.
According to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, people from all types of backgrounds have applied for this year’s astronaut training program. Bolden was amazed by the pioneering spirit of the applicants, but stated that it takes a special type of person to embark on a journey to Mars.
“A few exceptionally talented men and women will become the astronauts chosen in this group who will once again launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft,” he said.
The training process is not easy, either. It takes roughly two years, and equips an astronaut to control spacecraft systems, exit a ship and work in open space, work as a part of a high-functioning team, and even speak Russian.
People that make it through the training program will be placed either on the International Space Station, NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner or the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Each successfully trained astronaut will contribute to the effort to eventually bring a manned spacecraft to Mars.
A NASA press release describing the record-breaking application pool can be found here.