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Becoming an Astronaut: Frequently Asked Questions


Expedition 52 flight engineer Randy Bresnik of NASA demonstrates the width inside a Soyuz simulator, Thursday, July 6, 2017 at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) in Star City, Russia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

What is the best degree field to choose?

Among the academic fields considered qualifying for Astronaut Candidate positions, we would not recommend one over another or specify which might be more appropriate in the future. You should choose a field of study that is of interest to you; this will ensure that, whatever course your career takes, you will be prepared to do something that is personally satisfying. The qualifying degree fields are: Engineering, Biological Science, Physical Science, Computer Science, or Mathematics. You can obtain information on the backgrounds of the current and past astronauts at

Are there age restrictions?

There are no age restrictions for the program. Astronaut candidates selected in the past have ranged between the ages of 26 and 46, with the average age being 34.

Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to apply for the Astronaut Candidate Program?

Yes, you must be a U.S. citizen to apply for the program through NASA, applicants with valid U.S. dual-citizenship are also eligible. It is not recommended that you change your citizenship solely for the purpose of being eligible for the Astronaut Candidate Program. 

We do have international astronauts from the countries with which we have an international agreement-Canada, Japan, Russia, Brazil, and Europe select the International Astronaut. Each of these countries has their own Space Agency. 

You can obtain information about other space agencies at the following website:

What is the best college or university to attend?

NASA cannot recommend one college or university over another, or specify which schools might best prepare an individual for the Astronaut Candidate Program. However, please remember that the college or university you attend must be an accredited institution. 

  • Is flying experience necessary?
    Flying experience is not a requirement. The Astronaut Candidate Program requires either 3 years of professional related experience or have at least 1,000 hours of Pilot-In-Command time. A minimum of 850 hours must be in a high-performance jet aircraft. The remaining hours may be accumulated in aircraft other than high-performance jet aircraft. Jet aircraft experience is usually obtained through the military. Any type of flying experience-military or private, is beneficial to have.

Are waivers granted for any of the medical requirements?

No, NASA does not grant waivers for the medical requirements. When qualifying astronauts for space flight, NASA must look at not only what is required for normal spaceflight operations, but also what each astronaut would require should serious, even life threatening, problems develop. For maximum crew safety, each crewmember must be free of medical conditions that would either impair the person’s ability to participate in, or be aggravated by, space flight, as determined by NASA physicians.

Is surgery to improve visual acuity allowed?

As of September 2007, the refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK and LASIK, are now allowed, providing at least 1 year has passed since the date of the procedure with no permanent adverse after effects. For those applicants under final consideration, an operative report on the surgical procedure will be requested.

Is it better to apply as a civilian or through the military?

Military experience is not a requirement for the Astronaut Candidate Program. Active duty military personnel must apply to the Astronaut Candidate vacancy announcement via USAJOBS and follow the instructions provided by their respective military branch. If selected, military personnel are detailed to NASA for a selected period of time.

What is the annual salary for astronauts?

$152,258.00 Per year. This pay rate reflect the 2024 pay schedules and are an approximation. This rate will be adjusted to reflect any increase in 2025.

Military Astronaut Candidates are detailed to the Johnson Space Center and remain in an active-duty status for pay, benefits, leave, and other similar military matters.

How To Apply?

Please read the entire announcement and all the instructions before you begin an application. To apply for this position, you must build and attach a resume using the USAJOBS resume builder, complete the initial online application, to include the initial online assessment and questionnaire, and submit the required documentation specified in the Required Documents section below. The complete application package must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time) on the closing date of the announcement to receive consideration. The application process is as follows:

  1. To begin the application process, click the Apply Online button.
  2. Build and submit a resume using the USAJOBS resume builder.
  3. Answer the questions presented in the online application and attach all necessary supporting documentation.
  4. Click the Submit Application button prior to 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time) on the announcement closing date.
  5. If you are required to complete any USA Hire Assessments, you will be notified after submitting your application. The notification will be provided in your application submission screen and via email and may take up to 30 mins to receive (please also monitor your spam/junk folders). The notification will include your unique assessment access link to the USA Hire system and the completion deadline. Additionally, in USAJOBS you can click “Track this application” to return to your assessment completion notice.
  6. Access USA Hire using your unique assessment link. Access is granted through your USAJOBS login credentials. Click here for Computer System Requirements
  7. Review all instructions prior to beginning your assessments. You will have the opportunity to request a testing accommodation before beginning the assessments should you have a disability covered under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended.
  8. Set aside at least 2.5 hours to take the USA Hire assessments; however, most applicants complete the assessments in less time. If you need to stop the assessments and continue at a later time, you can re-use your unique assessment link.

For more general information, system requirements, reasonable accommodation information, and to request assistance regarding the USA Hire Assessments, review the following resources: Here

To update your application, including supporting documents, during the announcement open period, return to your USAJOBS account, find your applicant record, and click Edit my application. This option will no longer be available once the announcement has closed.

To view the announcement status or your application status: Click on this: Your application status page is where you can view your application status, USA Hire assessment completion status, and review your notifications sent by the hiring agency regarding your application.

All application documentation must be received by the closing date of the announcement in order to be considered and have a complete application. Documentation mailed or emailed to the Astronaut Selection Office will not be considered. All previous applicants MUST reapply and complete the entire application process.

All information is subject to verification. Applicants are advised that false answers or omissions of information on application materials or inability to meet the conditions outlined in this announcement may be grounds for non-selection, withdrawal of an offer of employment or dismissal after being employed. Please read the announcement in its entirety before applying.

Can I update my application and/or forms after I have submitted them?

You can update your application and/or forms any time before the closing date. If you update your resume you will have to reapply to the Vacancy Announcement through USAJOBS.

The application date will change anytime you make an update. The date of your application will not affect our consideration of your application. We will not be reviewing any of the applications until after the closing date.

How do I update my application after the closing date of the vacancy announcement?

Please be sure to include all information you would like to be considered before submitting your application. Once the announcement closes, only updates to contact information will be accepted. If you need to update your contact information, please send an email to Please do not send copies of diplomas, letters of recommendation, or any other unsolicited application material.

How does an active-duty military person apply for the Astronaut Candidate Program?

Active-duty military applicants must apply through both USAJOBS and their respective military service. Please follow the procedures of your respective branch of military service.

Does an active-duty military applicant submit their transcripts to NASA?

Please follow the application procedures listed on USAJobs, which includes uploading copies of your transcripts at the time you submit your resume.

Do my transcripts have to be in a sealed envelope?

Applicants must upload their transcripts at the time they submit their resumes to the vacancy announcement via USAJobs. Please upload official or unofficial transcripts that show both the degree conferred and the date the degree was conferred.

How do I contact the Astronaut Selection Office?

You may contact the Astronaut Selection Office at or 281-483-5907.

Who do I contact if I have medical questions?

As each person’s medical history is specific to them, we are not able, nor are we allowed, to answer specific medical questions without evaluating you in person during selection.  You may view the current astronaut medical selection standards here… Aerospace Medical Certification Standard – NASA.  If you are in doubt as to whether a standard applies to you or not, we simply encourage you to apply.  Good luck!