Studying the Career of a Space Cadet


The Verge

Being an astronaut is an out-of-this-world career.

Ben Geist, Columnist

Lots of jobs have different skill sets required in order to be successful. The skills of a construction worker are far detached from those of a computer specialist. But few jobs require as much studying, practice, and commitment as an astronaut. NASA states that the first thing you need to even become an astronaut is earn a bachelor’s degree in either engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics. You will also need over 1000 hours of command piloting. You will also have to pass an astronaut physical, a difficult test that assesses your mental and visual acuity. 

Now that you’ve gotten the degree and passed the tests, you’ve decided you still want to be an astronaut, a daunting task. According to The Verge, in the 2017 astronaut class, there were a recorded 18,000 applicants. Out of all of these applicants, only about 8 to14 become an astronaut. Therefore, your estimated chance of getting the job is an unfortunate 0.04 percent to 0.08 percent. But let’s say you make it, even against those crushing odds. What do you do? 

In general, people think of astronauts as moonwalkers and space explorers, but that’s only a small part of an astronaut’s duty. Charles Camarda, an astronaut at NASA, describes being a first-time astronaut as “pretty horrible.” You may be isolated from your peers, and it’s not like you’re up in space the second you’re accepted. You are treated as a newbie whose previous technical expertise is merely meaningless to the new set of skills waiting to be grasped.

However, after all of this training, you can finally escape Earth. Still, you’re probably not going on a breathtaking mission to a planet your first time in space. Even if you’re a senior astronaut, you probably haven’t been on an extraterrestrial object at all. The last time humans have been on an object that isn’t Earth was in 1972, when Apollo 17 crew members Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt set foot on the moon.

But time on the spaceship is what many people wonder about. What’s it like? NASA states that, while in space, you hardly use your lower body. Because of this, your back weakens. That’s why astronauts have to stay on a strict exercise routine. They exercise about two hours per day, and the routines are unique. Since everything is weightless in space, deadlifting a 200-pound weight is incredibly easy. NASA has special equipment to keep their space voyagers fit and healthy, including a treadmill that astronauts are strapped to in order to prevent flying off. 

Now you know some of the basic requirements of life as an astronaut. The future in space travel is getting brighter, and these space pioneers are our future in discovering the vast new worlds of  this infinite universe. We’ve already discovered so many places; all that’s left is for humans to set foot on them.