NASA received a record number of applications for its 2017 Astronaut Candidate program. Out of 18,300 candidates only 8 or 14 will be chosen.

Astronaut, Photo: Pixabay
Astronaut, Photo: Pixabay

( — June 13, 2016) — There are many whose childhood dream was to become an astronaut and explore the universe. This is confirmed by the fact that 18,300 people have applied for the NASA 2017 Astronaut Candidate program.

The US space agency will start the eighteen month long selection process to select the candidates who will undergo two years of basic training. The chances of being selected are less than 0.08 percent, which makes the entrance 65 times harder than that for Harvard University which has an acceptance rate of 5.2 percent, reports the Voice of America.

Anne Roemer, the Selection Manager at Johnson Space Center near Houston, explains what is required to be selected to become a NASA astronaut, adding that the process is not easy.

It all starts with filling the out the form. The US Space Agency has received over 18,000 applications after they announced last year that they are seeking a new team of astronauts. The competition is strong and only the best will be accepted.

The submitted documents are carefully reviewed to determine whether the applicant meets all the requirements. The current team of astronauts also review the submitted documents, said Anne Roemer.

The candidate must be a US citizen who has a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, biology, physics, computer science or mathematics. They also must have at least three years of relevant experience or at least a thousand hours as a jet airplane pilot. In addition, they have to pass a physical exam.

The Selection Manager explains that NASA favorites a certain type of personality. Leadership, teamwork, ability to work in a team, to lead a team, and communication skills certainly play a role, but are just some pretty common skills that translate into even other professions.

About 120 candidates will be invited for interviews at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Half of that number will enter the second round, but this is still not the final round. The selected candidates will have to pass the two-year training.

They will learn everything about space flight. From systems training, to spacewalk training and even Russian language training, explained Anne Roemer.

During those two years, candidates will learn a little bit of everything, before they start with mission specific training. Candidates who finish this training will eventually be assigned to one of four spacecrafts, including NASA’s Orion spacecraft for deep space exploration. If all goes according to plan, NASA will send people to Mars in the 2030s.

Since 1959, when the first group of astronauts were selected from the military, only 338 others have been selected to become NASA astronauta.