Can Pilots Become Astronauts?

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Several mission specialist astronauts have qualified without any flying background. On the other hand, some prominent astronauts have worked as private pilots before applying to become an astronaut.

It has been observed that being a pilot serves as an additional benefit for a candidate. The selection committee members have a higher preference for such individuals.

How to be an astronaut?

Certain professions are highly based on the major subject written from the beginning. Astronautics is one such profession where candidates with a major in maths and science can only apply.

Astronauts require having a master’s degree with 2 years of relevant work experience. Alternatively, they can have 1000+ hours as a pilot.

Becoming a pilot is a highly selective and competitive field. A candidate requires going through an extensive training process.

NASA only accepts a handful of applicants for entering space. The selection board first reviews applicant qualifications and applications.

In the next stage, a small group of these individuals is invited to the Johnson space center in Houston Texas. This is for the interview process and only a few selected candidates make it to the finals:

The steps to become an astronaut includes:

  • Successful completion of 2 years of basic training both classroom and physical.
  • Passing the physical test
  • Practicing in the simulation setup

An applicant needs to have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in science, engineering, or mathematics.

NASA has also clearly laid out some minimum qualifications to become an astronaut.

  • 2 years of related work experience of 1000 hours as pilot in command
  • Being a US citizen
  • Qualifying for the NASA flight astronaut physical exam
  • Master’s degree in stem field from an accredited institution

Fighter pilot to astronaut

NASA has a history of recruiting military officers and pilots as astronauts. They always have more preference for test pilot experience and those willing to face a challenging situation.

NASA’s mission and goals have changed over time so are the astronaut requirements.

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Can commercial airline pilots become astronauts?

A previously significant number of astronauts have started their careers as military pilots or commercial pilots. Once, fighter pilot experience was a mandatory requirement for potential astronaut candidates in NASA.

If commercial pilots satisfied the academic requirements then they can become an astronaut at NASA. Space travel is specifically known for innovation and cutting and technology.

Here astronauts play an important role in testing evaluating and improving the systems that they use. All people can learn a lot during their undergraduate studies.

But in their field of work, it is not sufficient. A candidate needs to have sufficient expertise to become an astronaut.

Typically astronauts have a master’s degree along with a Ph.D. to improve their chances of reaching space. The ideal point to start is a degree in astrophysics.

It is an extensive subject that is a combination of physics, maths, chemistry, and cosmology.

As is known to everyone it is a complex field of study. Only top students can solve high-level abstract reasoning and advanced mathematical concepts.

A large number of astronauts start their careers as military or commercial pilots. After gaining sufficient pilot experience they think of becoming an astronaut.

 Even if the candidate does not have practical experience.

A prospective candidate must have a clear understanding of how air travel works. Candidates usually start with learning the fundamentals of aerodynamics, flight science, materials and structures, propulsion theory, and other related topics.

From here the land is how to build design and test the next generation of high-end aircraft. Students need to understand mathematics and physics along with computer programming.

The candidate must be willing for a long-term commitment to the learning process. Continuous development is being made in the field of aerospace aeronautics. 

It will eventually post the boundaries of what is possible through the hands of talented graduates.

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Do Navy pilots become astronauts?

It is surprising to learn that NASA and the United States Navy have been sharing talent for more than 55 years. Even today these two organizations complement when other in different aspects of exploring the space.

The relationship began forming in Delhi in 1950 when NASA first started to screen pilots for the role of astronauts. Three of the seven Mercury astronauts were Navy pilots.

Since the time, there have been over 300 astronauts that have come either from the military or from the Navy. It clearly shows that the number one spot is reserved for Air force pilots in NASA.

The US Navy not only provides manpower but also other services for NASA.

How to be an astronaut for SpaceX?

SpaceX is all set to launch human astronauts into space in a couple of months. It will soon be certified to launch astronauts from NASA space.

As of now, there is no specific requirement to become an astronaut at SpaceX. Prospective candidates have to follow the requirements mentioned by NASA.

With the rapid advancement in technology, the goals and missions of NASA have changed significantly. Candidates need to have a strong academic background with a major in technical subjects to become an astronaut.

To apply for the position of astronaut US citizen must meet the below-mentioned qualifications.

Bachelor’s degree in biological science. Engineering, computer science, physical science, or mathematics.

The candidate must be evil to pass the long-duration physical test of NASA. Vision quality is a major huddle in this test.

One must have at least a thousand hours of pilot-in-command experience.

What disqualifies you from being an astronaut?

The physical test is one of the major factors that disqualify most applicants. Astronaut candidates need to swim for over 75 m without stopping.

Next candidates have to perform the same task wearing tennis shoes and a light suit. They also need to be able to trade water for 10 minutes in a flight suit.

All these are done to make the candidate’s emergency splash-down ready.

Prospect also be scuba qualified to perform an underwater walk in weightless condition. NASA has also built the largest swimming pool in the world.

This is where astronauts get to practice different spacewalk techniques. To become an astronaut one needs to train under experienced physical conditions.

Astronauts can stand both hypodic and hyperbaric pressure. It is the appreciation step of the training process.

Is there a weight limit for astronauts?

Astronauts need to be in excellent health condition. There is a specific set of health requirements prescribed by NASA for prospectus astronauts.

The height of the candidates should be between 149.5 cm to 190 cm. The weight of the candidate must be between 50 and 95 kg.

NASA astronaut requirements

  • The basic requirements to make an application for NASA include the following.
  • United States citizenship 
  • Master’s degree in science, engineering, mathematics, or technology
  • Minimum 2 years of relevant experience as a pilot
  • How to become an astronaut if you’re not American

Prospect astronauts must be useful citizens to apply for the program available at NASA. A candidate must have US dual citizenship to be eligible for the application.

However, it is never recommended that I candidate change their citizenship so leave for the astronaut candidate program.

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Can a foreigner be a NASA astronaut?

Prospective candidates must hold US citizenship to apply for the position of an astronaut. Holding dual citizenship is absolute to become an astronaut in NASA.

What to study to become an astronaut?

It is important to note that not all technology, math, science, and engineering degree qualify to be as per not. NASA primarily looks for candidates with a degree in biological science, physical science, mathematics, or computer science.

How hard is it to become an astronaut?

Prospective candidates need to understand the fact that technical education is not enough to become eligible for an astronaut role. Besides excellent academic credentials, aspiring candidates should have relevant work experience or flight hours.

Most importantly the candidate needs to pass the physical test before entering into space.

FAQ relating to pilots becoming astronauts

How much does a pilot astronaut make?

The grade of an astronaut is mostly based on academic achievements and experience. At present, the salaries start at around $64,725 and can go up to more than $141,765.

The pay grade is mostly determined by federal government skills and varies depending on education and work knowledge.

Can an Indian pilot become an astronaut?

NASA mentioned that every candidate applying for the post of astronaut should be a citizen of the USA. Indian candidates that have double citizenship are only allowed to make an application.

Also, the candidate has to follow the academic requirements and pass the physical test.

Why do fighter pilots become astronauts?

NASA has been closely associated with the armed forces of the USA for several decades. Pilots from both navy and army have served as astronauts in NASA.

With time the goals and machines of NASA have changed considerably. As a result, the requirements of an astronaut are also changing.

Candidates with valid flying experience and knowledge always receive more preference in the selection board.

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