Now that’s a space-age idea

by 18 Nov 2011

It’s not every day an offer like this one becomes available, and there’s a HR team out there with a tough recruitment campaign ahead. Yes, NASA is hiring.

It’s one of the most exclusive fields to get into, and as would be expected, the application process for the next generation of astronauts, to commence training in 2013, is nothing short of rigorous.

There’s also some pretty stiff selection criteria, and in addition to being a US citizen, the requirements include:

  • Measure 157.5cm tall, but no taller than 190.5cm
  • Have 20/20 vision
  • Have degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics
  • Spend 2-3 years in training - often in foreign countries
  • Be willing to spend up to six months on space exploration missions
  • Have up to three years of related experience or 1,000 hours of time in jet aircraft

Additionally, candidates must be willing to commit to three years of intense physical and theoretical training. Astronauts will be schooled widely on geology and geophysics.

While NASA has recently retired its space shuttle fleet amongst economic cutbacks to the space program, the new recruits will fly on board the Russian ship to assist with manning the International Space Station, as well as help build commercial rockets and standby for future NASA-led missions.

Manager for astronaut candidate training, Duane Ross, told media that while English is the principal language used in space, due to the close collaboration with the Russian space agency, being fluent in Russian is also an essential requirement.

Just try recruiting for this…

It’s undoubtedly hard enough trying to find suitable candidates for the astronaut program, but what about recruiting for an 18-month mission to Mars, spent in a Russian car park?

Test-astronauts emerged last week from their Mars500 mission, which saw a multinational all-male crew spend 520 days in a 1970s Soviet spaceship. The experiment was conducted to monitor the psychological and physical effects  long-haul space flight would have on human beings – even though a mission to Mars is decades away.

The crew signed up to the reality show-like project for the equivalent of about $100,000. For that, they agreed to be subjected to fake emergencies, spacewalks, scientific experiments, and only sporadic electronic communication with their loved ones.

But the most intense cravings, at least those publicly expressed by the test-astronauts, were related to food. Forced to eat a repetitive diet of vacuum-packed space food, with pasta and rubbery red meat featuring heavily, it’s no wonder a BBQ with fresh crusty bread would have been top priority once back at home.

 

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