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NASA Wants "People People" for Astronaut Core 86

Hugh Pickens writes "Astronauts are the ultimate Type A personalities but that can backfire during a long stay in space so NASA is taking applications for a new crop of astronauts whose main duties are to conduct experiments, keep the station running and stay in their crewmates' good graces. For that, NASA needs an affable, tolerant guy or gal who is more researcher than jet jockey. 'You need to be more of a people person' to serve on the station, says astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who has flown on the space shuttle and commanded the station. 'You can't just be steely-eyed, no matter how competent.' Coping skills are crucial on a station mission, which lasts three to six months, compared with 11 to 15 days for a shuttle mission. 'Anybody can get along with anybody for a couple of weeks,' says psychiatry professor Nick Kanas who studies astronaut behavior. After a month or two, 'being with somebody for that long starts to wear on you. The jokes get stale. You have to learn new ways of interacting.'"
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NASA Wants "People People" for Astronaut Core

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  • Do we get to go underground and kickstart the core?

  • Corps! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StCredZero ( 169093 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @05:25PM (#22297920)
    Slashdot needs literate editors!
  • Prostitutes (Score:4, Funny)

    by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @05:25PM (#22297924)

    So basically they're looking for people that would help astronauts remain sane and cool during long stays in space. Have they considered prostitutes?

    • by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @05:34PM (#22298078) Homepage Journal
      I agree.

      All they need is a space station with blackjack and hookers!

      Well, forget the blackjack.

      And the space station.
    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @05:35PM (#22298094) Homepage
      I don't think relationships of any kind in space are a particularly good idea [].

      Astronaut Qualification Test (1 question)

      1. (100 points): If you had a wig, pepper spray, an adult diaper, a new steel mallet, a knife, rubber tubing, and a large garbage bag, what would you do with them?
    • ...right, but then the astronauts come back broke. I suppose they could use crack whores, but then you have the disease factor. Tough one.

      One thing's for sure...strippers are out. 100k a year is nothing when you spend a few hours every day with strippers on the final frontier.
      • You're forgetting this is a government funded project. I can't wait to see the RFP sheet for hookers in space. Of course, it doesn't make me want to be an astronaut when you know the project manager is going to ultimately take the lowest bidder.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Garridan ( 597129 )
      Hmm... that wasn't what the engineers meant when they added "tang" to the pre-flight checklist... but hey, it'd do for me!
    • Re:Prostitutes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dtml-try MyNick ( 453562 ) <> on Monday February 04, 2008 @06:01PM (#22298520)
      For a short stay it's just a humorous thought at most, most sane humans can cope with a few sexless months.(though sex in space seems like a lot of fun ;p)
      But I wonder what NASA is planning to do on longer spaceflights, say 2 to 5 years orso.

      If we ever get to the point of far distance human exploring, human interaction including the sexual kind is something that needs to be carefully thought of. I assume they'd want a mixed group of males and females to keep some kind of balance.
      It would be inevitable that at least some of them would get a desire for sex during such a long stay. Even if it's just to get some stress relief. One could argue that you should let nature take it's course just as we do in our every day life, but the situation there would be kind of different.

      For example, say if you'd have 5 man and 5 woman. And by chance NASA picked 5 stonecoldfreezing woman who'd have no problems with a few years of celibacy and a few of the guys have a bit above average of testosterone... I can imagine some disasterous situations.

      Anyone have any idea how these kind of social interaction problems are being dealt with at NASA?
      • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

        most sane humans can cope with a few sexless months.

        Make it 261 for me. Maybe NASA needs virgin astronauts?

        And by chance NASA picked 5 stonecoldfreezing woman who'd have no problems with a few years of celibacy and a few of the guys have a bit above average of testosterone...

        Sounds like MTV's A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila [] (12 hardcore lesbians and 12 horny males put together in the same house)

      • Anyone have any idea how these kind of social interaction problems are being dealt with at NASA?

        From several articles (granted, somewhat mainstream), it doesn't seem like there is much publicly-available research on human psychological reactions to sexual issues in long-term spaceflight. I would be surprised if there isn't a more robust body of serious literature in sociology & human behavior journals, and inside NASA, ESA and others.


        These links are more about alleged events, and short-term i

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mbrother ( 739193 )
        Sex in space is more complicated than you might think.

        A couple of years ago I had an idea for a quasi-non-fiction book in the tradition of the Zombie Survival Guide. Not as creative or as fun. Okay, less creative but more fun. It would be Sex in Space: A Manual for Tourists, written as if it were a few decades in the future and honeymooners could vacation at a space hotel. Inside would be dos and don'ts, guides to which lubes would pose the fewest problems, instructions for how to use various gear in space
      • Start training toddlers, and send 'em by the time they're seven. Pre-screen them for early puberty, too. That, or just use robots. :)
      • by afxgrin ( 208686 )
        "Anyone have any idea how these kind of social interaction problems are being dealt with at NASA?"

        LOL - I imagine the way people deal with these social interaction problems in many places around the world - ALCOHOL.

    • by Sta7ic ( 819090 )
      Although amusing, NASA already discarded the idea. They have a higher charge-out rate than the astronauts, their science experiments are invalid and off-topic, and the conservatives in Congress refused to approve their funding.

      In the end, it was decided that a reprogramable Fem-Bot was the best of both worlds, required less input mass over time since they didn't need food or water, and were curiously flexible and patient with more conventional scientific monitoring.
    • by morari ( 1080535 )
      Pff! Hookers? If I have learned nothing else from Star Trek, it is that astronauts can get all of the space poontang they want at no charge! Captain Kirk and Commander Riker (pre-beard) are both prime examples of this.
    • The thing with prostitutes is that you don't pay them to stay, you pay them to leave.

      Bringing them up to the ISS for extended periods would defeat the point.

      - RG>
  • by vivaoporto ( 1064484 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @05:29PM (#22297986)
    The Simpsons [] did it first!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2008 @05:31PM (#22298008)
    ... and they've decided Slashdot is the place to look for them.

    Note to moderators: the above is "+5 Funny"
  • Wow, NASA think "in advance", but let's hope they will these people in their lifetimes ...
  • Heinlein (Score:3, Informative)

    by cthulu_mt ( 1124113 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @05:32PM (#22298040)
    I can't help but think of the opening chapter of Stranger in a Strange Land where they try to find the most compatible crew possible. Good luck with that guys.

    Hint: Foot-kilograms is not a unit of measure for crew compatibility.
    • by kongit ( 758125 )
      Well kilograms per foot could have some effect. I would not want to be locked in a space station with a 36 kg/ft man or woman. Of course the more proper measurement is kg per meter so I would not want to be couped up with a 118 kg/m person. Maybe I am just wierd or something.
    • by plover ( 150551 ) *
      Ha, I couldn't help but thinking of Tom from Office Space talking to the two Bobs:

      "I already told you, I deal with the goddamn customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills!! I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?!?"

  • "The best thing to do is just to freeze him. Stop the goddam disease. He can get a doctor to look at him when we get back home."


    "Whenever he says anything you say `right,' Brett, you know that?"


    "Parker, what do you think? Your staff just follows you around and says `right,' Just like a regular parrot."

    "Yeah, shape up. What are you, some kind of parrot?"

  • by esocid ( 946821 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @05:39PM (#22298164) Journal
    Are they serving complimentary Tang? If so, sign me up.
  • by tcolberg ( 998885 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @05:46PM (#22298276)
    If it nets me a trip to space, I'll be whatever personality they want me to be!
    • It's not going to space that would make be be whatever personality they want. It would have to be staying in space (orbiting habitat, lunar/martian colony, etc.).
  • by urcreepyneighbor ( 1171755 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @05:53PM (#22298374)
    Give me a military-style space program filled with men and women from the military, thankyouverymuch. (It'd be an added bonus if they can keep their dicks in their pants and their legs closed.) We can leave the soft shit to the commercial (including the travel industry) sector.

    Remember the space slut incident []? I rest my case. (Yeah, I know, she was military - but she was "people person", so my point stands. :P)
    • by Macgruder ( 127971 ) <chandies DOT williamson AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 04, 2008 @06:16PM (#22298780)
      Better yet, skip the jet jockeys and flyboys. Recruit from the submarine service. Steely-eyed, and they have the proven skills to work in inhospitable environments for months on end without cracking up or going psycho.
    • Aren't most astronauts from the military anyway? It doesn't seem to help. I don't get this article at all. I would think that you would want less socialization. That is where the problems come from, right? IMHO, people with personality disorders would be the obvious choice. Aren't there forms of high level autism that cause you to dislike social interaction? I think a person capable of existing alone for long periods of time would also be excellent at deep space missions, such as Mars.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh ( 216268 )
        Not necessarily. I don't like being around others much at all, either, except for my wife (and even there I need time alone of course). I'd be perfectly happy with a job working at home, though my current engineering job isn't too bad either since I don't have to talk to others much.

        The problem with space travel is that you aren't sending individual astronauts out on missions by themselves; you're sending teams of astronauts. So while that Mars astronaut may be away from most friends and family for 1-2 y
        • Actual, why not send just one? It would cut down on life support needs. The only thing I see a manned mission really needing is someone to troubleshoot the computers when the on-Earth controllers can't fix it and maybe also doing the actual flying. It would be like sending a robot that doesn't need a remote.

          If there are good reasons to send more than one person, there is no law that says they have to share a pod. Two lifesupport pods would have a nice redundancy too. (I just saw the movie "Sunshine." Hor

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      I think you have a misunderstanding of military people, in many ways they seem to be the last people you can expect to "keep their pants on", as it were.

      That, and Lisa Nowak was not a "people person" based on statements by her coworkers.
      • I think you have a misunderstanding of military people, in many ways they seem to be the last people you can expect to "keep their pants on", as it were.
        Eh? I'm not talking about a horny, pimply-faced 11B. I'm talking about career military.

        Got a little gray hair, a wo/man at home, and kids? You're a go! ;)
  • .
    Depeche Mode
    People Are People
    Some Great Reward

    People are people so why should it be
    You and I should get along so awfully
    People are people so why should it be
    You and I should get along so awfully

    So we're different colours and we're different creeds
    And different people have different needs
  • From what I read of the article, this is about enforcing societal norms on employees. And that usually entails firing a lot of autistic people.

    First it was the IT industry, and now apparently the space industry is getting in on the act. Tired of watching otherwise competent and productive employees fail to give out and respond to conforming body language, managers decide that we need to bring in some people who make eye contact when they speak and understand the latest fashions. That is far more important

    • Normal is relative.

      I think those who make eye contact when they speak, have conforming body language, and understand the latest fashions are freaks.

      Problem with what you said though is (afaik) that autistic people have just as much problem dealing with other autistic people as they would with normal people, if not more.

      I don't think either straw man would be appropriate for a long term space stay though.

      • Problem with what you said though is (afaik) that autistic people have just as much problem dealing with other autistic people as they would with normal people, if not more.
        You can't generalise about such things; how two people relate is entirely down to those particular two people. Hence crews train together. Trying to turn it into the fucking waltons in space is just petty and reactionary.
      • I'm not autistic (more of a frustrated intellectual), but I don't make eye contact, couldn't care less about clothes (they serve a function, nothing more), and I'm not much of a conversationist when I'm around the so called "normal" people. If someone wants to contribute to a conversation in a meaningful, intellectual manner, even if I disagree with them, I'm far less likely to want to strangle them (though I still might :P). I think picking crews of compatible people is far more important than picking cr
    • You must be fun at parties!
    • Being able to coexist peacefully without irritating your coworkers is important in an environment that locks a few people up together for months at a time. It's unfortunate that many autistics cannot do that well, but it's a fact.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by damburger ( 981828 )
        If an autistic person cannot get on with a non-autistic person, why do you assume it is the fault of the autistic person? Perhaps the normal person is just too damn intolerant.
        • by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:57PM (#22300206)
          Humans evolved society and social behavior for a reason and most can deal with it (to various degrees). If someone is blind you don't make them a sniper, you don't create a touch based vision (that's inferior) just for him.

          It's sher arrogance to assume the rest of society needs to bend backwards for you at their detriment simply because you can't do it for them.
    • If NASA is looking for "people" people to be astronauts, it's probably more just a sign that the real cutting-edge stuff, for which you do need wildly talented and somewhat abnormal folks, is about over. If machines and the ground crew are now doing all the real hairy work, and the important thing about the people on orbit is just that they don't embarass the agency in front of the TV cameras, well then, sure, being a well-adjusted normform is clearly the way to go.

      There's a somewhat apt quote from Fleet A
    • From what I read of the article, this is about enforcing societal norms on employees.

      Which says to me that you didn't read any of it. The incompatibility problems discussed in the article are well known (at least among people who follow the space program) - and have nothing to do with with 'conforming' or 'fashions' or 'societal norms'.
  • They should look into Genuine People Personalitiies.
  • Please remember, I am only joking....


    1. We are pretty tolorating people.

    2. We live WAY out in the country, with as little human interaction (other than each other) as we can get away with.

    3. We have more than 2 months worth of jokes....

    4. They would get free "pron"...

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:11PM (#22299578) Homepage
    The US already has a largish pool of individuals already self selected, tested, screened, and proven for many of the traits that NASA seem to want here. A large number of them even have college degrees. (The only drawback being - the pool 100% male.)
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Yeah, you need fighter pilots to do the piloting part on the Shuttle and Orion and any future landing, but to actually operate the gear and the experiments on the Station, on a Moon or Mars base, or cruising to and from Mars: Your best bet is to recruit from the US Submarine Service.
    • Except spaceships are far more cramped and inhospitable than submarines. They also need people with far more skills and expertise than a navy meathead.
      • Meathead?

        Today's (enlisted) US Navy Submariner is a trained, technical specialist in at least 2 fields, possibly 1 or 2 more (depending on at which point in his career he made the transition to submarine service) and has spent a minimum of 15 months, as much as two years in highly stressful, intensive and submarine specific training before even stepping on-board. Then comes the year-long OJT submarine qualification program in addition to his normal technical specialty.

        Any 'meatheads' were washed-out long b
  • Bow chica chica bow bow chica. I know you were thinking it.
  • I can't believe no one has yet nominated Homer Jay Simpson and/or Barney Gumball yet... That episode was the birthplace of 'I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords' (OK that might not have been the exact original phrase, but I'm memed out here...)
  • WIll they serve Pizza Pizza or Panda Panda on the ISS? They can play Puyo Puyo in their off hours. They can train the people people at the new training center in Walla Walla. Maybe they'll see Jar Jar. OK, I'll stop.
  • Well, submariners may be good for transit, and fighter jocks for landing, but once you actually get on the surface of the Moon or Mars, it's the astrogeologists' turn. A few good field geologists could turn any landing site into a scientific bonanza...
    • I first red archaeologist, and wondered why would you need archaeologist in moon or mars? Then it came...

      "Dr. Jones, we meet again." ..a hidden Nazi base in the dark side of moon, inside an ancient Atlantis outpost?

      I for one propose that all future space missions will include an archaeologist with a passion to fight Nazis. You just can't be never too sure.

  • Long and inefficient search.
    At the taxpayers expense, of course.
  • Because when I hear someone say they are a "People Person" I immediately think "Donner Party".

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.