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Space NASA Science

Your Chance to be an Astronaut 302

codewarrior78411 writes "NASA posted a hiring notice for new astronauts Tuesday, on usajobs.com, seeking for the first time in almost 30 years men and women to fly aboard spacecraft other than the shuttle. The agency is seeking 10 to 15 new faces for three to six-month missions aboard the international space station." Requirements include 'Must be a U.S. citizen between 5-foot-2 and 6-foot-3 in height (to squeeze into Russia's three-passenger Soyuz capsule)' 'At least a bachelor's degree in engineering, a biological or physical science, or mathematics' 'three years of relevant professional experience' and most interestingly 'Vision correctable to 20/20. For the first time, the space agency will consider applicants who have undergone successful refractive eye surgery.'
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Your Chance to be an Astronaut

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  • by pzs ( 857406 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:37AM (#20666631)
    Must be willing to wear a diaper on long drives?

  • by syrinx ( 106469 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:41AM (#20666667) Homepage
    Must be a U.S. citizen between 5-foot-2 and 6-foot-3 in height

    As a 6'4" person (that's 0.384 rods for those of you not used to measuring in feet!), I think I am going to sue for height discrimination.

    First I find out that government safety regulations in cars only apply to people 6'3" and under, and now this...
    • by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) * on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:48AM (#20666761) Journal
      It's not discrimination because you need to be under a certain height in order to fit through certain passage ways and into certain rooms. Since that requirement is objectively tied to be ability to perform the job, it cannot count as discrimination to place that height maximum as a requirement.

      This is just like how it's absolutely impossible to do any kind of engineering-related task whatsoever without a 4-year degree from an accredited engineering program, and therefore employers are 100% justified in making that a requirement for engineering jobs and why it's not discrimination and is legal under the ADA and relevant employment law. [/can't say with straight face]
      • Actually it IS discrimination, it's just not illegal discrimination.
        From Dictionary.com:

        treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit
        It's completely legal, and expected, that you discriminate in the hiring process. I try to discriminate against stupid people, for example.
    • "As a 6'4" person (that's 0.384 rods for those of you not used to measuring in feet!), I think I am going to sue for height discrimination."

      I'm sorry, but anyone taller then 6'3" is considered a statistical abnormality within the current human race ; therefore cannot be factored into the Earth's exit strategy. That and it's a "Ha Ha" from the shorter folks for whom you've all been making fun of.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sgt scrub ( 869860 )
      I TOTALLY Agree! I'm a short, fat, balding, middle age, heavy drinker and smoker AND they won't even take ME! I mean WTF!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by zerocool^ ( 112121 )

        I TOTALLY Agree! I'm a short, fat, balding, middle age, heavy drinker and smoker AND they won't even take ME! I mean WTF!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Like2Byte ( 542992 )

        I TOTALLY Agree! I'm a short, {{huff}} fat, balding, middle age, {{huff}} heavy drinker and {{cough}} smoker AND they won't even take ME! {{huff, huff, huff}} I mean WTF! {{heart explodes}}

        Fixed that for you.
    • I would imagine there are also weight limits. I'm 6' 4" too, but at about 280 I would probably lose on that fact as well. Would a computer science degree count?

    • The legal term is "bona fide occupational requirement". The onus is on the employer to demonstrate that it's legit, but in this case it is.

      Airline flight attendants have similar height requirements, for similar reasons. They must be tall enough to reach the overhead storage bins, but not so tall that they keep bumping their heads on things.


  • by nmg196 ( 184961 ) * on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:42AM (#20666687)
    If the missions are one-way, I think my boss would be an excellent candidate. I'll even fill out his application for him.
    • by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:46AM (#20666751) Homepage Journal
      An interesting philosophical question that I have posed in the past... Would you take a one-way trip to Mars? You get to be the first person to ever set foot on the red planet, your family is generously rewarded, and you take a suicide pill N months after landing when your food supplies run out.
      • I haven't even gotten around to impregnating some beezies. And the rest of my family's doing OK on the money. I think I'll let someone else kill him(her)self
      • An interesting question indeed. Maybe if I was old and grey and had already lived my life to the fullest, but otherwise, no.
      • by IceCreamGuy ( 904648 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:58AM (#20666885) Homepage
        I have actually specifically told my friends when it's come up in conversation that if, somehow, I was approached by NASA and they told me that I could got to Mars, that I would never be coming back, that I would die there, and that I would never see my friends and family again, and I had to leave right now with no time to say goodbye or get any of my things, I would absolutely do it, no questions asked. People have told me that's a stupid thing to think, or that I'm a jerk because I would leave everyone I know so quickly, but that's just the way it is. If I could go to outer space, my life's meaning would change so drastically that it wouldn't even be worth it to think in those terms to me, and I think to my friends and family as well. -Julius
        • Even if you had to go right now and not being able to ever see your family or friends again, you could say goodbye to them in a pre-recorded message, live from the space ship, or even better, from Mars. Not only to say goodbye, but also to explain them why you did it.

          I know this wasn't the point of your post, but still, just a thought.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          It is strange how averse many people are to the idea. I know of specific ancestors who boarded ships with vague notions of their destination and slim possibilities for return. Many families have similar stories.

          Considering that only a small fraction of humans live in central eastern Africa or wherever humans originated, leaving home to seek new lands with little hope of return is a historically common event. Of course, nobody yet has set out for a barren world many millions of miles away, but many have face
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        What would be the point. To be the first person on Mars? I don't see that the rush to get a person on Mars needs to be so great that we consider a suicide trip. Mars isn't going anywhere in the next 50 years. I'd wager that anything we can find there, we could still find in 1000 years.

        It is one thing to consider a suicide mission that has some lifesaving purpose, but throwing lives away for a feather in your cap isn't worth it. It is definately not worth it when simple restraint and patience will r
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chapter80 ( 926879 )
          "Being born" is a suicide mission. When you were in the womb, if someone said to you, "If you go out there, you are going to eventually die," (which is true), would you choose to be born anyway? If you stay in the safe womb, presumably you'd eventually die. If you go out, you'll eventually die.

          What's different about Mars? The original post didn't say the food would run out in less than 100 years.

          • The implication was that it would be a relatively short time since he stated it in Months instead of Years. If the food wouldn't run out in less than 100 years, then suicide pills for lack of food wouldn't be necessary. I have a good expectation to live for another 50 years, and I expect that I can contribute more in 49 than I can in 1.

            What would you need to accomplish on Earth that would make a reduction of your lifespan to a fixed 10 months worthwhile?

            In my case, there are several things that are worth
            • by TheLink ( 130905 )
              In theory it could be possible to continue shipping food and water to you, very expensive, but possible.

              My guess is it will be much harder (and much more expensive) to send a spaceship that could land, pick you up, take off and make it back.

              You'd probably still die earlier than you would on Earth.

              I wouldn't do it, but I don't think it would be that hard to find people who would be willing to do it.

              I don't see the point though - might as well stick to robots for exploration. For human stuff, should work on b
            • Most people would think that the question implied that their life would be shortened. But with n=1200, n months would probably not be a shortened life for me.

              I suspect that the question was worded that way to lure you in, one way or another. For example, one might answer "For sufficiently large values of n, I'd do it". And so someone might say that if n=1200, they'd do it, but if n=10 they wouldn't. Then it's a matter of trying to figure out for what value of n (number of months of food supply) you'd

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                Then again, what the hell am I going to do on Mars for 100 years? Unless there's slashdot.
                But the latency would be terrible ;)

                Heh, which was kind of my point. It would have to be a pretty necessary mission to require a one way trip to Mars.

                Though there are some interesting things you could do on Mars if you were there, by yourself, for 100 years. For instance, you could go check out what is under that rock... or that other rock... Make some footprints in the dust, that could be fun.

                My goal would prob
      • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:01AM (#20666941) Journal
        A guaranteed suicide mission would be worthless on a personal level (unless I had, say, terminal cancer or somesuch, then I'd certainly be game), but more importantly, it would be worthless on a political level. You don't send folks up to die, because the whole point of the exercise is two-fold:

        1) science / exploration

        2) getting ordinary folks to think "hey - that could be me/my kids up there someday! Cool!"

        The reason the Space Race was so popular in the '50s and '60s wasn't so much the 'Red Menace', but ordinary folks (kids chief among them) to fantasize about being spacemen and spacewomen. SciFi was a HUGE factor in having folks dream of space as a destination in the first place.

        Sure, the odds of, say, terraforming Mars in my lifetime is pretty much nil, but the ideas of adventure and exploration? Especially in a world that pretty much has had human eyes hovering over nearly every square hectare of it by now? It's a pretty damned cool idea.


        • "You don't send folks up to die, because the whole point of the exercise is two-fold:

          1) science / exploration

          2) getting ordinary folks to think "hey - that could be me/my kids up there someday! Cool!"

          I know parents who would gladly send their adult kids on a one-way trip to Mars just to get them the f**k out of the house sometime before they die.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        and you take a suicide pill N months after landing when your food supplies run out.

        On those terms, no. If on the other hand you were to say: "and you take a suicide pill N months after landing if your food supplies run out." I'd do it. In a heartbeat. (Ok, I'd evaluate the mission first to see if that "if" is reasonable).

        Trying to establish a permanent colony on Mars would be worth it, I think. Being part of the pioneering group, facing challenges, working on something important and influential. Hell Yes, I
      • I thought the original question was "would you go even if we couldn't guarantee that we could get you back" with the situation being that you would be sent there to settle (which implies raising a family there) with base expectation that you would be there for years and with the understanding tht NASA may not be able to develop the technology for a return flight.

        When put in this context it is similar to that of a pioneer going west to settle and grow communities.

        If this were the case, then I'd go in a heart
  • by tryfan ( 235825 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:43AM (#20666701)
    leave my job at Stargate Command for this!
  • by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:43AM (#20666707)
    Here's my chance to show up that smug Inanimate Carbon Rod.
  • Geeeeeeeks in spaaaaaaaaccceeeee.

  • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:51AM (#20666795)
    I'm a bit curious about the vision requirement. While I understand the need for good vision, what is the need for 20/20? The real work of flying the craft is usually left up to computers, and I'm not sure of what tasks couldn't be performed with adequate vision. I suppose one could argue about the docking operations with the ISS...

    Of course I may be coming at this from the wrong angle. Vision that isn't correctable to 20/20 is probably pretty bad to start.
    • People's vision also tends to degrade over time. They are talking of 1 or 2 years of selection, plus 2 years of training before you even start. If you already need glasses, how is it going to be when you actually fly?

      Second, glasses and contacts would be bad during takeoff (doing 6Gs I think?). Also in zero-G, putting on and removing contacts might be a problem.

      Besides, if there is an emergency while people are sleeping and you need to evacuate or act quickly, you really don't want to wait for people to fin
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sconeu ( 64226 )
        I seem to recall a shot of John Young at the controls of STS-1, wearing his reading glasses.

        Yep. Here [aboutspace.com] it is.
    • I happen to be one of the few people in the world who can not have my vision corrected with some sort of surgery. I have terrible astigmatism and kerataconus (coning of cornea) in one eye. Even with contacts I can only get 20/35 in the 'good' eye and 20/30 in the 'bad' eye (with a $400 space age hybrid lens ;-p ). I can't even wear glasses as the distortion is too strong around the periphery and causes me nausea...

      So yeah... it's not a huge constraint on the general populace and a pretty good indication tha
  • "Pilot applicants must have at 1,000 hours at the controls of a fighter jet or in command of a larger jet aircraft. "

    In Freespace 2? But... But...
    • "Pilot applicants must have at 1,000 hours at the controls of a fighter jet or in command of a larger jet aircraft. "

      A thousand hours of flight time is a pretty typical amount before the insurance companies are willing to let you fly commercial aircraft - seems to be the amount of pilot time you need before they consider you a trusted aviator. You end up seeing a lot of pilots get their 'comercial' certification around 250 hours of flight time and do flight instruction (and work baggage lines) until they h
  • Salary (Score:3, Funny)

    by dlhm ( 739554 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:52AM (#20666815)
    The Salary kind of sucks for being strapped to a bomb....
  • There goes my chance. Or does it count as a "physical science?"
  • Doh! Born in the wrong country for this one. :-(
  • by monkeyboythom ( 796957 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:00AM (#20666917)

    Great. I have this sneaky suspicion that this cattle call will end up as network reality show contest.

  • All the "space rendezvous" videos and images have been faked by the same company that faked the moon landing. They are good with Blender and the GIMP. Damned good.

    The truth is out there!
  • I can meet all the other goals outlined, but no way would I be willing to go the distance on the tilt-a-whirl (whirl and hurl?). I prefer my insides stay inside.
    • Ever go to the IMAX movie in the Air and Space musuem where they show how you can get disoriented? Sit you in a chair with a white polkadot umbrella surrounding your field of vision and then they spin it. With the IMAX screen I always got the feeling that my chair was spinning around.
  • Suggestions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:28AM (#20667313) Journal
    Get a PhD
    Get your private pilots license
    Get certified in Scuba
    Run 10 miles a day, be in good physical shape
    Make sure you are comfortable speaking in public, and are fairly good at it
    Have diverse interests

    Now you've met the real minimum requirements...go have fun!

    FFWIW, I considered being an as-can, and know others who were attempting to get selected. Getting into the NBA is a bit easier than getting into to be an astronaut, statistically speaking.
    • Damn, I'm such a nerd it took me about a minute before I realized NBA is not some competing agency for which I was trying to figure out what the N and B stood for.
    • Getting into the NBA is a bit easier than getting into to be an astronaut, statistically speaking.

      A bit? Each NBA team probably fields more players in a given year than NASA has active astronauts. How many NBA teams are there now?
  • Finally! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rengav ( 456846 )
    From the www.usajobs.gov site:

    ASTRONAUT CANDIDATE (NON-PILOTING BACKGROUND): 1. Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics. Quality of academic preparation is important. Degree must be followed by at least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience. An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience as follows: master's degree = 1 year of experience, doctoral degree = 3 years of experience. Teaching experience, including experience at the K - 12 levels, is considered to be qualifying experience for the Astronaut Candidate position; therefore, educators are encouraged to apply.

    I'm really glad to see that teaching experience is being considered "real" job experience for once. Looking at all the minimum qualifications, with 7 years of K-12 teaching, I qualify. I'm going to apply. Who knows, I might get lucky. Wish me luck!

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      Funny, based on my experience the one group of professional who shouldn't qualify is teachers.

      What about the job makes them more qualified to go into space? I know, it's a tough job where you work half the time then anybody else in the same pay range.
  • I wonder if the vision thing is a quiet rejection of anyone over 40?
    • by Rolgar ( 556636 )
      Considering you'll have to train for years before you get into space, the body is in physical decline for most people by age 35-40, the intent is to make sure the candidates are still physically capably by the time they get into space.

      Rare is the athlete that can compete at a high level beyond the age of 40, even then, there is a noticeable decline. Michael Jordan, for instance, in his last two years could no longer dunk like he could at 35 much less 25, and scored 8 and 10 points fewer than his career ave
  • by sircastor ( 1051070 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:47AM (#20667573)
    On a radio show called "This American Life", the host Ira Glass interviewed a couple of Astronauts which revealed that most astronauts haven't been in space, and many aren't even scheduled for a flight. So if you enjoy meetings and lots of paperwork, sign up. Yes it gives you a chance to get into space (better than us normal ground-dwellers), but frankly, this isn't the dream that most want it to be.
  • Why is it 20/20? Does NASA really require every astronaut to be capable of landing the shuttle in an emergency? I just don't see why, if I'm the robotics engineer on board, I would need perfect vision to complete my tasks.

    Granted, you don't want people who can't function at all without glasses in case of emergency, glasses are broken/lost in space ;) etc. But what's the maximum line of sight on the space station, like 25 feet? If someone can see well enough I don't understand why perfect vision is require

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