Odds are, at some point in your life, you probably considered a career as an astronaut.

Between the kick-ass suits, exploring the unknown, and that whole zero gravity thing, it looks like a pretty great gig.

Also Space Camp seems like buckets of fun.


"Orange you glad to be an astronaut?" Photo by NASA on The Commons/Flickr.

Sadly, many of us traded in this dream for something a little more realistic.

For those of you who never gave up hope, however, I have some great news:

For the first time in decades, NASA is hiring new astronauts for future deep space missions.

It's the first time humans will venture past "low-Earth orbit" (anything higher than about 100 miles above Earth) since 1972, so they're looking for a few new recruits with diverse professional backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Astronaut Mae Jemison serving up STEM professional realness. Photo by NASA on The Commons/Flickr.

“This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.

Intergalactic pioneers and an annual salary of $66,026 to $144,566 per year?

SIGN. ME. UP.

So, do you have the right stuff to be an astronaut?

Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA, right, is seen with fellow crewmates, talking with friends and family before launch aboard the Soyuz spacecraft n Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Photo by NASA HQ Photo/Flickr.

According to the application, available now on USAJobs, the federal employment website, here's what NASA is looking for for their next class of space professionals:

1. Do you have book smarts?

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited university in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics. This, however, does not include degrees in nursing, psych, technology, or even aviation technology.

Your theater tech degree is awesome, but it probably won't give you the know-how you need to be an astronaut. I know. It stinks. Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr.

2. Do you have skillz? (Or In lieu of skillz-with-a-z, an advanced degree?)

You'll also have to have at least three years of professional experience under your belt in your degree field or an advanced degree.

Don't have those because you were busy being a pilot? 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time works too.


Photo by NASA on The Commons/Flickr.

3. Do you have a body that just won't quit (on you in space)?

Last step: You'll also need to pass a physical and have 20/20 vision, though you're allowed to wear glasses.

Applicants will also be expected to pass a drug test and a swim test, but probably not at the same time, despite a golden opportunity for comedy.

Carolyn Griner, Ann Whitaker, and Dr. Mary Johnston, simulating weightlessness while undergoing training in the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator at the Marshall Space Flight Center in 1975. Photo by NASA on The Commons/Flickr.

Getting selected for the program is difficult, but it's nothing compared to astronaut training and the job itself.

Training for the three to six month missions aboard the international space station requires two to three years of training, often overseas with NASA's global partners.

Fair warning, some surprising things happen to the human body in space due to the lack of gravity. Your spine may elongate, your bones lose calcium and become brittle, your heart gets smaller, and even your eyesight can change. They don't mention that stuff on the application.

But they also don't mention that your new view could very well be this:



So if you're ready to chase adventure and eat your weight in dehydrated ice cream, get your application in before the Feb. 18 deadline.

But word to the wise: frequent travel may be required.

Space Shuttle Atlantis takes flight in 1988. Photo by NASA on The Commons/Flickr.

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