Join 3,438 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Frequent travel may be required
November 15, 2011 6:02 PM   Subscribe

NASA is hiring new astronaut candidates. Positions are open for all qualified U.S. citizens.

Somewhere between 9 to 15 applicants will be selected. You need a degree in Science. There is a drug test. You must be between 5 ft. 2 inches and 6 ft. 3 inches, so you can fit in a Soyuz spacecraft.
posted by twoleftfeet (122 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I remember dialing into the NASA BBS as a kid, just to look up the astronaut requirements. But...
posted by curious nu at 6:04 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does Political Science count?
posted by 26.2 at 6:05 PM on November 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


You need a degree in Science

Political science totally counts, right? brb infinity and beyond
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:05 PM on November 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Zero gravity coke!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:06 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Finally Navin Johnson can use that astronaut application form he carries in his wallet!
posted by The Deej at 6:08 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also came in to inquire about poli sci.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:08 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Should I assume that, similar to the French Foreign Legion's language requirements, they will teach me all the Russian I need to know?
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:08 PM on November 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm throwing my support behind Fatstronaut.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:09 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Awesome. Screw grad school, I'm going to the moon.
posted by pemberkins at 6:10 PM on November 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Height-ist :(
posted by auto-correct at 6:11 PM on November 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


It didn't work so well the last time they did this.
posted by Renoroc at 6:11 PM on November 15, 2011


Let's send a MeFite to space!
posted by Jode at 6:11 PM on November 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Screw grad school, I'm going to the moon.

Not so fast there, hotshot. You'll need to finish that Poli Sci degree first.
posted by PlusDistance at 6:12 PM on November 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


Majoring in art seemed like such a good idea back then.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 PM on November 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do I have to have my own adult diapers?

Also, I did not slog through the swamps in 'Nam just to be shot into space in a COMMIEROCKET
posted by DU at 6:14 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I like this line from the press release the best:
Successful applicants frequently have significant qualifications in engineering or science; or extensive experience flying high-performance jet aircraft.
Emphasis mine. Spaceflight is one of those dreams that still lingers in the back of my mind; every time I go down the long Wikipedia roads of the history of manned missions or toy around with trying to grok orbital maneuvering. I understand all the practical arguments against it - the huge financial and energy costs of putting a hunk of meat in space and keeping it alive - but there is something so wonderful and awesome (in the most primal senses of those words) about stepping outside the only world nearly all of humanity has ever known.

It's been exciting chatting with my friend who works at Blue Origin, as they've been scaling up and trying to figure out the hard problem of bringing spaceflight to the masses. But looking at the way the world has been going, I've got little hope that it'll ever be more than the elite of the elite - either in skill or in wealth - that mankind will send up into the stars.
posted by lantius at 6:17 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Finally Navin Johnson can use that astronaut application form he carries in his wallet!

I failed everything except the date of birth.
posted by .kobayashi. at 6:18 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh. Holy. Crap. I meet all of the requirements. I'm happy with my job, but I have an irresistible urge to apply.
posted by Alison at 6:18 PM on November 15, 2011 [25 favorites]


Applicants will be evaluated by an Astronaut Rating Panel

In case I'm not selected I would totally settle for a seat on the Astronaut Rating Panel.

You're a solid 9, John Glenn!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:20 PM on November 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wake me when they start taking applications for the space program that involves snappy uniforms, artificial gravity and holodecks.
posted by gracedissolved at 6:22 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just saw an advertisement for space tourism in some magazine (I think the idiot mag Forbes) today. So if you can't go work in space you can now buy your way into it

#OccupyTheMoon
posted by edgeways at 6:22 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Need Another Seven Astronauts" -- not just a tasteless joke anymore.
posted by briank at 6:24 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think I could be an astronaut because I get very, very, very motion sick. Also, because I don't have enough experience yet. But mostly because of the motion sickness.
posted by 200burritos at 6:26 PM on November 15, 2011


So, a bachelor's in Biology I can knock that out I what 6, 8 months?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:31 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Frequent travel may be required"

Pfff, forget it then!
posted by DU at 6:31 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


*sigh*

too blind and never got around to applying for citizenship back when I was eligible though I like the fact that they don't specify an upper age limit
posted by infini at 6:35 PM on November 15, 2011


First job posting I've looked at in months, in which I meet all the requirements.

Hell, that'd even make it worth it to move to Houston.
posted by notsnot at 6:36 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had already been planning to at least put in an application in a couple years.

"KEY REQUIREMENTS

This is drug-testing designated position
"

Huh, something this actually makes sense for for once, they test for recent nicotine consumption too right?
posted by Blasdelb at 6:39 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wrote NASA a letter (self-link) and suggested we start shooting monkeys into space again. This is an idea I still stand behind.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:39 PM on November 15, 2011


"Need Another Seven Astronauts" -- not just a tasteless joke anymore.

Now that the shuttles are retired, there will be new vehicle designs to test. A big recruiting drive right before putting a new class of prototypes into use, you say?
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:41 PM on November 15, 2011


Does NASA have any idea what these astronauts might be flying, let alone when? The Ares was scuttled, and there isn't anything else to carry the Orion as of yet. (The SLS is little more than a few drawings and some nebulous plans.)

It would be a bit of a shame if the only way these new American astronauts could get into space is by hitching a ride with the Russians or the Chinese.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:41 PM on November 15, 2011


start shooting monkeys into space again

They've been doing this all along.
posted by klanawa at 6:54 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder what the General Schedule locality pay adjustment is for low Earth orbit?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:05 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


ME ME PICK MEEE

overlook that the only russian i can remember with any accuracy is terrible swears
posted by elizardbits at 7:08 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You must be between 5 ft. 2 inches and 6 ft. 3 inches, so you can fit in a Soyuz spacecraft.

I'm pretty sure discovering he was too big to fit in a Soyuz capsule ranks as one of the greatest disappointments of my brother's life.
posted by hoyland at 7:13 PM on November 15, 2011


Political science totally counts, right?

What about the Dismal Science? Given that Earth just hit 7 Billion People, I've been looking for an escape route like a Malthusafucker.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:18 PM on November 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Travel to and from the ISS will be aboard the Russian Soyuz vehicle. Consequently, astronauts must meet the Soyuz size requirements, as indicated below.

It would be so rad to take this job posting back in time to 1984 (maybe right after a "Red Dawn" movie showing) and freak everybody out.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:20 PM on November 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Educators encouraged to apply? Sweet!
posted by King Bee at 7:25 PM on November 15, 2011


[practicing] "No bucks, no Buck Rogers."

"Who's the best pilot you ever saw?"

Oh yeah, I can totally do this!
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:35 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Was there an age requirement? I don't see it.

'Cause otherwise I meet the requirements, plus I'm already a GS-11 with a security clearance, plus a 5-point veteran's preference, PLUS I've lived in a submarine for that long.

Although I don't know about "significant accomplishments." Maybe "pretty dang good at his job" would be close enough?
posted by ctmf at 7:36 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would make an awesome astronaut even though the only requirements I match are height and citizenship.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:38 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm going to put in for it. 'Cause even a rejection letter on NASA letterhead would be kind of cool. Especially if it said something like "you were qualified and a strong candidate to be an astronaut, but we chose someone else."
posted by ctmf at 7:40 PM on November 15, 2011 [18 favorites]


I'm glad to see they specifically mention the uselessness of my geography degree.
posted by thewestinggame at 7:45 PM on November 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


ctmf: nooo, that's exactly how Independence Day starts.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:45 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey, I qualify! Now the question is -- would I take a job in Houston?
posted by chimaera at 7:48 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


[thus starts a whole new season on AskMe]
posted by infini at 7:55 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Cause even a rejection letter on NASA letterhead would be kind of cool.

4:27 - "We rank our astronauts generally in three categories: Highly qualified, qualified and not qualified. We really think you're a strong competitor in one of those categories."
posted by NorthernLite at 7:56 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's with the minimum height? They can't put a booster seat in a Soyuz?
posted by ctmf at 8:00 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


[looks at salary] Astronauts don't get to be part of the 1%?

No wonder nobody goes to space no more.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:02 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


GS-14 in Houston would be nothing to sneeze at. Still, the money's in the TV reality show you would arrange during your training.
posted by ctmf at 8:04 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like to imagine they have a long BS aptitude test like you get when applying to Home Depot, with questions like:
You see a coworker with metallic facial extrusions and a robotic affect. He heavily encourages you to consider 'assimilation.'

Do you:

A) Ask the coworker how he is feeling and suggest he request sick leave?
B) Assimilate to prevent an altercation?
C) Consult with Houston about the issue at next convenience?
D) Set up a meeting with your supervisor to discuss the issue?
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:07 PM on November 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


GODDAMN IT. I am 4 inches too tall to physically dwell within the goddamn Soyuz.

First buses, then planes, now this. I demand society fit me into their shit! And stuff...

On an unrelated note, those top shelves you have are really dusty right now.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:08 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I mean, cmon NASA, just crib the Soyuz and make it fit people that are 6'6" so I can go do protein crystallization and binding studies in space.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:12 PM on November 15, 2011


I'm a dismal scientist! And I fit within the height requirements. GONNA FIND ME SOME MOON BABES
posted by dismas at 8:14 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


How would you like to get higher than you've ever been in your life?
posted by FuturisticDragon at 8:17 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You must be between 5 ft. 2 inches and 6 ft. 3 inches
ok!
There is a drug test.

[crumples application]

I'd only want to go up there so I could smoke a joint and annoyingly tell the cosmonauts how small their country is from up here.
posted by ninjew at 8:21 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"...all qualified U.S. citizens."

Dammit!

Seriously though, I'd never get picked but this is the one thing I'd renounce my citizenship and emigrate for. Coolest job there is.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:22 PM on November 15, 2011


I'm not going to tell my girlfriend Coco about this. When we were last in New York, we stopped by the Hayden Planetarium, as she had just interviewed Niel deGrasse Tyson, and while we were there we got a chance to meet astronaut Mike Massimino. Afterwards, she burst into tears.

Yes, this is the same Coco who cried during the Wall-e trailer. That's why I won't tell her. Even though she is not qualified to be an astronaut, they might send her in space just because she's so adorable, and what would I do without her?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:24 PM on November 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


Stupid eyesight.
posted by Kwine at 8:25 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kevin, Google "2009 Astronaut Group". You'll see that there's are other space folks in other countries.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:27 PM on November 15, 2011


Astronauts don't get to be part of the 1%?

FYI NASA I will do it for free.

and i will spacewalk and paint a nyancat on the side of the ISS
posted by elizardbits at 8:32 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn! I missed it by half an inch! Maybe if I slept on the floor for a few days. I'm pretty sure that's how my Dad made it into the NYC fire department...
posted by blurker at 8:34 PM on November 15, 2011


Sure, there's Canadian astronauts but that's an even smaller pool. Last time they recruited (in 2008), there were something like 5000 applicants and only two got hired. Your average citizen has a better chance of being hit by a falling satellite than ever going into space.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:35 PM on November 15, 2011


5 ft. 2 inches and 6 ft. 3 inches

Sometimes I hate being 6'4".....

You short people suck.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:37 PM on November 15, 2011


The frequent travel part is about going around the country to various contractor's facilities.

Hope you have an understanding family/SO!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:44 PM on November 15, 2011


NASA are assholes. Huge, huge assholes.

There. I said it.

You know why?

Because the official stated requirements are a very low bar that I pass easily. A Bachelor's Degree in any of several areas, and three whole years of job experience? For which more education can be substituted? Easy! 20/20 vision or can be made so by surgery? Bam! US Citizen who can pass a drug test? Done.

And then you remind yourself that actual real astronauts do not have a comp sci BS and a few years of cubicle-bound software development. They have, y'know, multiple Master's degrees and maybe a PhD here and there, or a few years' experience as an emergency-room surgeon, or a whole career as a fucking Air Force Test Pilot. These are people who are, almost without exception, massively talented and skilled and smarter than I will ever be, and the only reason those requirements exist is because you may as well set some minimums because the form says so, given that the test pilot might only have a BS, and the doctor might have no more flight experience than he got in a video game.

So yeah, NASA, fuck you. For giving us that brief moment of Oh my god I am technically qualified for this job before we stop and think "wait, even in the post-Shuttle age when recruiting will be a huge challenge for them, this is still going into space and let's be honest, I don't know about you, but if I could go into fucking space you wouldn't have to pay me. Actually I would take out a loan. It could be like college. Except instead of awkward sex and illegal drinking, I could be in space, looking down at the Earth and pawing at six inches of layered hyper-expensive porthole and sobbing "oh god it's so beautiful, it's just so fucking beautiful" over and over again.

Assholes.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:47 PM on November 15, 2011 [45 favorites]


I gotta call my Mom and tell her I'm gonna be an astronaut!

They won't care that I haven't done any advanced math in years, right? Right?
posted by axiom at 8:48 PM on November 15, 2011


Political science totally counts, right? brb infinity and beyond

Um...No:

"The following degree fields are not considered qualifying:
.
.
.
--Degrees in Social Sciences (Geography, Anthropology, Archaeology, etc.)"

But on the plus side, you could always become a NASA administrator!
posted by neurodoc at 8:49 PM on November 15, 2011


I didn't want to be an astronaut anyway.
posted by mazola at 8:51 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


BENEFITS:

• Going into motherfucking space.
• Doing things in motherfucking space.
• Landing on big-ass rocks floating out in motherfucking space.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:51 PM on November 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


I just saw the original Planet of the Apes (1968) again after having seen it (with attendant nightmares at age 7) some four decades ago, and here's my heartfelt advice:

Don't be Charlton Heston
posted by infini at 8:52 PM on November 15, 2011


> They've been doing this all along.

If I am reading wikipedia correctly they haven't shot a monkey into space in 15 years.

I actually wrote a rocketry company first, since I thought there was a chance they would tell me what it would take to make this happen, but I was ignored.

The problem I have with shutting down the space program (or even part of it) is that there's a good chance that whatever we replace the shuttles with will be late, over budget, and crap. I'm not a scientist, so there could very well be compelling reasons to scuttle the shuttle, but just wait! I don't see what the hurry was.

If there needed to be a sense of urgency, then let that be on the part of the replacement. Get that up and going. I'm all for trading up, but before you attempt this make sure she's a sure thing before stepping out.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:52 PM on November 15, 2011


actual real astronauts do not have a comp sci BS and a few years of cubicle-bound software development. They have, y'know, multiple Master's degrees and maybe a PhD here and there,

Yeah, look at NASA's list of former astronauts and you won't find many slackers there.

My favorite is Story Musgrave, who has a BS degree in mathematics and statistics from Syracuse University in 1958, an MBA degree in operations analysis and computer programming from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1959, a BA degree in chemistry from Marietta College in 1960, an M.D. degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1964, an MS in physiology and biophysics from the University of Kentucky in 1966 and a MA in literature from the University of Houston–Clear Lake in 1987

A MA in literature!
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:57 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Money, cjorgensen, it was money. Can't fly the shuttle and build its replacement on a crappy budget.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:58 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"And then you remind yourself that actual real astronauts do not have a comp sci BS and a few years of cubicle-bound software development. They have, y'know, multiple Master's degrees and maybe a PhD here and there, or a few years' experience as an emergency-room surgeon, or a whole career as a fucking Air Force Test Pilot. These are people who are, almost without exception, massively talented and skilled and smarter than I will ever be, and the only reason those requirements exist is because you may as well set some minimums because the form says so, given that the test pilot might only have a BS, and the doctor might have no more flight experience than he got in a video game."

Well yeah, there's your reality, but then there's...

It's...

We can still...

*sigh*

Back to the science fiction novels.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:59 PM on November 15, 2011


A MA in literature!

They all laughed when I said that close readings of Jane Austin wouldn't be useful in space. I'll show them all!
posted by mmmbacon at 9:01 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ack. NASA's list of former astronauts.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:04 PM on November 15, 2011


Actually they have had astronaut application opportunities every other year - they may have skipped one. I came close to applying a couple times, but, in the end, I didn't want to spend ten years in Houston to get a chance at ten days in space ...

I'm sensing that a lot of people in this thread don't understand the situation very well. In fact it's pretty exciting. Right now there are several companies (Boeing, and SpaceX, and others) working on viable low earth orbit spacecraft, which would do the same job as Soyuz/Progress using existing launch vehicles. That's not far off at all. Actual hardware exists, now, and SpaceX's Dragon capsule has actually flown. That's pretty far along. If you join now you won't get to go on the first flight. ;)

NASA's heavy launch vehicle and exploration spacecraft for deep space (i.e. the Moon, the asteroids) is early in the planning stages and is a long way off. For that, you're going to need some patience, but if you join the astronaut corps now and get some experience near the Earth you'll be well positioned to be on those.

So go for it, already.
posted by zomg at 9:07 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


We need to start sending completely unqualified, ridiculously under-prepared, currently under the influence of several illegal drugs, at least one of witch had to be improvised from the Kennedy Space Center commissary the night before, and just outright dangerous people into space if the NASA has any real chance of getting better public interest.

C'mon, astronauts are just so... square. All that military career influence, discipline, training, and focus just gives us a bunch of dependable, orderly, scientifically focused, upstanding citizen-type professionals. Booor-ing. Just once, I would like something different.

I want to see some shroomed, all-wired-up dude just grabbed at random from a Motorhead/Hawkwind/Jethro Tull/Pink Floyd concert festival, thrown into a spaceship an hour later, and just give him a joy ride. Just to see what happens.

You know, for science and stuff.
posted by chambers at 9:11 PM on November 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'd like to see a wider variety of surnames on that list
posted by infini at 9:16 PM on November 15, 2011


cjorgensen, that is exactly what I have heard from former astronauts and others who should know. (All people I am not qualified to be talking with about this stuff.) They argue that we should keep moving forward with the next vehicle, that to not do so will mean we'll lose so much technical knowledge that getting the momentum rolling again will be a huge challenge. Brandon Blatcher is right of course. What the people (not) writing the checks may not realize is how much more it may end up costing in the long run.
On preview, chambers that will be the reality show ctmf mentioned up thread...
posted by zoinks at 9:18 PM on November 15, 2011


> Political science totally counts, right? brb infinity and beyond

> Um...No ... But on the plus side, you could always become a NASA administrator!

If you mean lower-level administrator, then, sure. If you mean the administrator, though, this might be a littler harder. The current administrator is a former astronaut. The administrator before him (not counting an acting administrator) has seven academic degrees, including a PhD in aerospace engineering.

When we hear about astronauts, we think of space missions, but not all astronauts go to space. In fact, not all astronauts are hired even with the intention of sending them to space.
posted by -jf- at 9:22 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


In fact, not all astronauts are hired even with the intention of sending them to space.

Sure. And god knows the work done by people at NASA on the ground is incredibly important and it's not like those people are unsmart slouches either. But let's be honest. To be quite blunt, nobody in this thread gives a shit about that. What we want is to go to space. Outer space. The one up there. As soon as possible. Preferably now. Right now. Our bags are packed. I mean who doesn't have a Hypothetical Abrupt Recruitment to Space Program Go-Bag stashed under their bed, just in case? Mine has my teddy bear in it and I'm not ashamed to say that.

Space.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:26 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought they were already having a hard time getting the people who are already astronauts into space? So why recruit more people who aren't getting into space?

(And what Tomorrowful said, of course.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:36 PM on November 15, 2011


Oh and Brandon even if they're just going to some factory to shake hands at least they get to go in one of these.
posted by zoinks at 9:38 PM on November 15, 2011


$20 says Colbert gets hold of this and milks it for about 4 episodes.
posted by luminarias at 9:46 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


So wait. Clinical Psychology gets you in, but Computer Science doesn't?

How do I file a complaint with the Space Commissioner?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:54 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


In fact, not all astronauts are hired even with the intention of sending them to space.

And then a solitary tear ran down Metafilter's cheek.
posted by book 'em dano at 10:00 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry MetaFilter. I didn't mean to make you cry.
posted by -jf- at 10:20 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wake me when they start taking applications for the space program that involves snappy uniforms, artificial gravity and holodecks.

This was my biggest problem with ST:TNG. Every time Picard stood up, he had to pull down his tunic. We don't have the technology by the 24th century to have clothing which doesn't ride up?
posted by maxwelton at 10:57 PM on November 15, 2011


I don't think I've seen my husband as excited about anything as this since...well, ever.

And that's just the astronaut part; I'm not even counting the fun he's having taunting his (multi-degreed Navy pilot space geek) too-tall brother.
posted by ThatSomething at 11:00 PM on November 15, 2011


What I hear from space sounds like side band radio. Before I apply for the gig, I would want to be guaranteed broadband computer service.
posted by Cranberry at 11:50 PM on November 15, 2011


Tomorrowful, think of it this way: the probability that you could be hired to be an astronaut is orders of magnitude better than winning the lottery. (In 2006, the total head count for science and engineering bachelor's holders was 16.6 million. And if there's ten positions, well. Even if the population's grown to 25 million, and they all apply, it's about 1 in 2.5 million! The probability of a 6-from-49 lotto jackpot is just a little better than 1 in 14 million, and forget Mega Millions, at 1 in 175 million.)

(Yeah, yeah, I know that the NASA job selection process isn't random. Shh. I'm cheering up the embittered, here. Play along.)

NASA's *giving* you an implausible dream instead of selling you an impossible one for a dollar. Isn't that nice of them?
posted by gingerest at 12:07 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eh, I heard Aperture hired them up already, as well as out-of-work Olympic gold medalists.
posted by bardic at 1:14 AM on November 16, 2011


Positions are open for all qualified U.S. citizens.

I'll bet NASA wants the long form birth certificate.
posted by three blind mice at 2:48 AM on November 16, 2011


If you're interested, the best books by astronauts about being an astronaut are Riding Rockets and Skywalking, which covers the Shuttle era and Carrying the Fire, which covers the Gemini and Apollo programs up to Apollo 11.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:24 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Never mind the height and eye requirements. Degrees, whatever. There's being contorted in a tiny box for days and being unable to get out... get out.... can't get out..... scream
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:52 AM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's not really an issue. In space no one can hear you scream.

Even if the population's grown to 25 million, and they all apply, it's about 1 in 2.5 million! The probability of a 6-from-49 lotto jackpot is just a little better than 1 in 14 million


Okay, this is it. I'll buy 10 applications!
posted by ersatz at 4:48 AM on November 16, 2011


If you're a DBA, you still have two days left to apply for the DBA in Space competition.

Red Gate Software has teamed up with Space Adventures to offer one lucky DBA a ticket into space. Complete our video quiz, and you could be the winner. Aside from the grand prize, there’s a discount on Red Gate tools available for anyone who enters, rewards for the finalists, and a free eBook for everyone who takes part in the voting.
posted by Acheman at 5:31 AM on November 16, 2011


Say what you will, at least NASA is creating jobs right now.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:51 AM on November 16, 2011


Never mind the height and eye requirements. Degrees, whatever. There's being contorted in a tiny box for days and being unable to get out... get out.... can't get out..... scream

no one can hear you
posted by nathancaswell at 6:01 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


A library science masters totally counts, of course it... oh. Dream crushed once again.
posted by marginaliana at 6:30 AM on November 16, 2011


As a primate, I find this exciting. As a geek, extremely lame. Primates in cans, so obsolete! Send robots!

Where's the robotic space station? Where are the zero-g drones? They made that weird Master Chief-headed torso, I've never heard of it again. We need a modular uncrewed space station, to practice the skills that will really matter in the future: robotic zero-g assembly and manufacturing. And the drones will keep on getting better and better! With primates, we'll only get better at making them not die up there.

Instead of wasting propellant ferrying supplies to orbit, use it to send more propellant! An orbital gas station, man. Then, when you got the next 13-FUCKING-TON Fobos-Grunt lost in orbit, you have the delta-v to send a tiny, lightweight drone over to reboot the damn thing. Or to disable a Chinese military satellite without the inconvenient cloud of space junk.

Do the physics make sense? Is such a thing possible?
posted by Tom-B at 6:38 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics. Quality of academic preparation is important.

Sorry, Chuck Yeager. Your time will come. Just sit tight.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:02 AM on November 16, 2011


Where's the robotic space station?

They're called satellites. When you don't have to have a pressurized capsule for the meatsacks to live in, you can throw the 'space station' form factor away completely, and just make the entire assembly 100% tailored to whatever purpose it's supposed to achieve.

Interestingly, there were plans both in the US and the USSR for manned reconnaissance stations ... basically spy satellites with astronauts inside, to operate the cameras. It pretty quickly became apparent that this wasn't a great idea, and that automation and remote control would give a greater range of capabilities at less cost. So, yeah, basically that process has been going on for a while.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:08 AM on November 16, 2011


Tom-B, it doesn't have to be one or the other, manned and unmanned spaceflight make sense.

Is there a pressing need for an orbiting robot station that sends out drones to fix other satellites?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:08 AM on November 16, 2011


That's right here in the depths of November I reveal my soft white underbelly in a true confession and you guys all gang up on me like some blue cloister cult hoping to suck the blood out of my tenderloin like so many skin-deep vampires well mark my words when the extra terrestrial intelligences on their mission of revenge veer out of Gemini the last thing you do this morning better not be squishing in your boots when the man in black comes calling.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:30 AM on November 16, 2011


I applied. I know I pale in comparison to other applicants. But you know what? It costs me jack-all (okay, actually it costs a single stamp) and I have an infinitesimal chance OF GOING TO GODDAMN SPACE. So now that I meet minimum requirements, I'm gonna keep applying because I can. I have motivation to exercise, learn new languages, and go to grad school. Who cares that it's a pipe dream responsible for all that?
posted by supercres at 8:24 AM on November 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is there a pressing need for an orbiting robot station that sends out drones to fix other satellites?

DARPA seems to think so.
posted by quite unimportant at 8:57 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like a cousin to one of the rationale's behind the Shuttle. "We can totally repurpose satellites, just send up the shuttle and bring'em back! We'll save butt loads of money, we swear" but to a more insane degree.

I love the idea, but it sounds like it would be need a lot of work to be profitable and that poses the question of whether it would be worth it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:06 AM on November 16, 2011


You too thewestingame? Awesome!

Metafilter: the last refuge of useless geography majors.
posted by Naberius at 11:10 AM on November 16, 2011


"It's like a cousin to one of the rationale's behind the Shuttle. "We can totally repurpose satellites, just send up the shuttle and bring'em back! We'll save butt loads of money, we swear" but to a more insane degree."

it is a cousin to that rationale, but it is somewhat less insane.

the reason shuttle retrieval for service was so dumb was that it is a waste of propellant bringing it down and then sending it back up, add in the cost of the relaunch, and you might as well build a new satellite and launch that... but NASA probably knew that all along

the more likely reason the shuttle had retrieval capabilities was to nab Soviet satellites for deactivation and inspection, not to re-launch American space junk.

as for satellite servicing parts-swaps, the idea is fanciful but only the most fanciful of an incredibly practical idea.

satellite servicing will more likely be about having a propellant depot in space, and a "Tender" satellite that can refuel using the depot, grab satellites and correct or change their orbits without the satellites themselves requiring much in the way of fuel or general purpose systems. satellites sometimes end up launching "short" of their desired orbit. this is not uncommon, and a tender could fix those situations.

you won't have to do that super regularly for that to be worthwhile - since you will want the propellant depot anyway for other reasons and you only need to build a single "Tender" to start.

that's the baseline mission. from there you can look at parts swap, refueling other satellites to increase their longevity, and building completely new missions from reassembled space junk.

a Tender even benefits human spaceflight in that if a manned vehicle runs out of fuel or power for any reason, help is so much closer in the form of the tender than it would be in the form of an ad-hoc rescue mission. the tender could fuel up, grab the vehicle and perform a de-orbit burn, sacrificing itself to save the astronauts.
posted by striatic at 11:33 AM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Sorry, Chuck Yeager. Your time will come. Just sit tight."

Chuck Yeager got to be a test pilot the old fashioned way: by shooting up the Luftwaffe. And by being one of the best qualified people around when they started up the X Program.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:45 AM on November 16, 2011


I think Yeager lacked the formal education to be an astronaut. Going back to school just wasn't something a record breaking fighter pilot did in those days.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:07 PM on November 16, 2011


In "The Right Stuff" (book, not movie) there's a depiction of how Yeager was annoyed by the astronaut selection process and how it discriminated against guys like him so he set up a "charm school" within the Air Force test pilot training regime to help good pilots qualify to be astronauts. Now that's a good leader.

Also keep in mind that there are two kinds of astronauts, now: Pilot-Astronauts (who have to be pilots and are {almost?} all military) and Mission Specialist Astronauts (who are usually engineers or scientists).
posted by zomg at 1:58 PM on November 16, 2011


god knows the work done by people at NASA on the ground is incredibly important and it's not like those people are unsmart slouches either. But let's be honest. To be quite blunt, nobody in this thread gives a shit about that. What we want is to go to space. Outer space.

At my NASA tweetup I met a few (former) shuttle techs. I was pretty impressed that somebody got to do that. And one of them told me there's even a hierarchy among the techs, with those who work on the crew compartment perceived as snobby.

When we hear about astronauts, we think of space missions, but not all astronauts go to space. In fact, not all astronauts are hired even with the intention of sending them to space.

Yeah, but you get to have one of these - that says Astronaut on it.

(I remember hearing an interview with some astronaut, maybe Cady Coleman, who said people always seem fascinated by her business card.)
posted by NorthernLite at 2:36 PM on November 16, 2011


To be quite blunt, nobody in this thread gives a shit about that. What we want is to go to space. Outer space.

Check out the DVD series Moon Machines, which looks at the Apollo program from the point of view of the engineers. The sheer pride and joy expressed in the interviews is touching.

It's also worth noting that most astronauts are quick to praise the the people who built, maintained and managed the ships and programs.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:31 PM on November 16, 2011


If you are an astronaut ham (as in amateur radio), and many astronauts are, you get one additional privilege that no earth bound FCC licensed amateur operator will ever get. Even if we earn the hardest/maximum license (Amateur Extra) we will never be allowed to do what an astronaut ham in space may do; play music in the background when they are transmitting. Probably not worth becoming an astronaut for, but still, it irks me.
posted by okbye at 5:09 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


chambers: "We need to start sending completely unqualified, ridiculously under-prepared, currently under the influence of several illegal drugs, at least one of witch had to be improvised from the Kennedy Space Center commissary the night before, and just outright dangerous people into space if the NASA has any real chance of getting better public interest.

C'mon, astronauts are just so... square. All that military career influence, discipline, training, and focus just gives us a bunch of dependable, orderly, scientifically focused, upstanding citizen-type professionals. Booor-ing. Just once, I would like something different.

I want to see some shroomed, all-wired-up dude just grabbed at random from a Motorhead/Hawkwind/Jethro Tull/Pink Floyd concert festival, thrown into a spaceship an hour later, and just give him a joy ride. Just to see what happens.

You know, for science and stuff.
"

I've seen that movie.
posted by deborah at 6:27 PM on November 16, 2011


ATTENTION to male applicants born after December 31, 1959: they require that you have signed up for the draft.

I repeat: as a condition of employment they require proof that you have registered with, or are exempt from, the Selective Service System.

(Females apparently still exempt. Boo-yeah. All that male privilege? You can keep it. I'm goin to space.)
posted by nicodine at 10:32 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


My girlfriend is applying, on the grounds of she meets the stated qualifications so why the heck WOULDN'T she?
posted by kyrademon at 6:54 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having worked in and around the Kennedy Space Center for many years, being an astronaut is not all that is racked up to be in many ways and the most amazing experience in many other ways.

Mostly the astronauts are just human backup to automated systems and they just fly around in several very small rooms with your closest or worst 6 friends for a few weeks. (They are human) You spend a lot of time following strict step by step guidelines, set up by other people and updated at random times, that you have practiced for literally months if not years.

This is not to make it sound bad. Have heard that the first time an astronaut looks out the window in orbit, they have an almost religious experience that is humbling beyond belief. They are all changed forever. They also build solid relationships that last a life time with some of the most talented people in the world. The idea of working with the stereotypical government employees or NASA employees are just a bunch of nerds is the very farthest thing from the truth. The people you would work with are an amazingly talented and caring group people compared to anyone / anywhere . . . . . .period.

You are given a random urine drug test quite often and are watched like a hawk on all medical fronts by the doctors as they have millions invested in them and their performance.

A good friend, who is a multiple mission astronaut, best describes the experience as months and months of repetitive training, followed by days and days of never ending boredom, punctuated by seconds of shear terror.

Wish I would of had the chance to be one.
posted by wheels1720 at 6:46 AM on December 12, 2011


« Older Library Science...  |  Today marks the 10th birthday ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments