SCIENCE

NASA Inundated With 18,300 Applications From Wannabe Astronauts

  • Mary Nichols , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Feb, 22, 2016, 06:17 AM
Tags : science
Astronaut
(Photo : Getty Images/NASA) The space agency recently closed their application window for the 2017 astronaut class after receiving 18,300 applications.

NASA is currently looking to fill eight to 14 spots for their 2017 astronaut class, but have recently closed their application window after receiving 18,300 applications.

The record number of applications received beat out a 40-year record when 8,000 people applied to join its astronaut program in 1978, writes Christian Science Monitor.

"It's heartening to know so many people recognize what a great opportunity this is to be part of NASA's exciting mission," said Johnson Space Center director of operations Brian Kelly in a press release. "I look forward to meeting the men and women talented enough to rise to the top of what is always a pool of incredible applicants."
For the first time since 2011, NASA opened up astronaut applications in December 2015.

The sheer number of applicants is surprising given the stringent qualifications set out in NASA's selection criteria. All applicants must be American citizens who hold at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics.

Competent applicants are also required to have three years of professional experience at the very least, or one thousand or more hours of flight time. All applicants must also pass a physical exam due to the challenging nature of the astronaut program.

Any applicants who fail to meet the initial requirements will be removed from the pool first, before the reviewers go through the remaining applicants to pick out the "highly qualified" candidates.

According to The New York Times, only 400 to 600 applicants who are "most qualified" will undergo a reference check, with only 120 of this number to make it to Houston for an interview, orientation of the facilities and medical screening in early 2017.

However, the vast number of applicants this year means that these numbers may have to change, writes The New York Times.

"We've never gotten 18,000 applications," Anne Roemer, the NASA official in charge of the selection process, told The New York TImes,"so I don't know if that number may need to move up this time."

Once the new astronauts are selected, they will relocate to the Johnson Spaceflight Center in Houston, Texas to undergo intensive training learning skills to do with teamwork, spacewalking and spacecraft systems - as well as learning the complexities of the Russian language. 

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