The NASA Astronaut Corps is a unit of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that selects, trains, and provides astronauts as crew members for U.S. and international space missions. It is based at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
The first U.S. astronaut candidates were selected by NASA in 1959, for its Project Mercury with the objective of orbiting astronauts around the Earth in single-man capsules. The military services were asked to provide a list of military test pilots who met specific qualifications. After stringent screening, NASA announced its selection of the "Mercury Seven" as its first astronauts. Since then, NASA has selected 20 more groups of astronauts, opening the corps to civilians, scientists, doctors, engineers, and school teachers. As of the 2009 Astronaut Class 61% of the astronauts selected by NASA have come from military service.
NASA selects candidates from a diverse pool of applicants with a wide variety of backgrounds. From the thousands of applications received, only a few are chosen for the intensive Astronaut Candidate training program. Including the "Original Seven", 339 candidates have been selected to date.
The Astronaut Corps is based at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, although members may be assigned to other locations based on mission requirements, e.g. Soyuz training at Star City, Russia.
The Chief of the Astronaut Office is the most senior leadership position for active astronauts in the Corps. The Chief Astronaut serves as head of the Corps and is the principal adviser to the NASA Administrator on astronaut training and operations. The first Chief Astronaut was Deke Slayton, appointed in 1962. The current Chief Astronaut is Patrick Forrester.
Salaries for newly hired civilian astronauts are based on the federal government's General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-11 through GS-14. The astronaut's grade is based on his or her academic achievements and experience.Astronauts can be promoted up to grade GS-15. As of 2015, astronauts based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, earn between $66,026 (GS-11 step 1) and $158,700 (GS-15 step 8 and above).
Military astronauts are detailed to the Johnson Space Center and remain on active duty for pay, benefits, leave, and similar military matters.
|Part of a series on the|
There are no age restrictions for the NASA Astronaut Corps. Astronaut candidates have ranged between the ages of 26 and 46, with the average age being 34. Candidates must be U.S. citizens to apply for the program.
There are three broad categories of qualifications: education, work experience, and medical.
Candidates must have a master's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics.The degree must be followed by at least two to three years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience (graduate work or studies) or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience, such as a doctoral degree (which counts as the two years experience). Teaching experience, including experience at the K – 12 levels, is considered to be qualifying experience.
Candidates must have the ability to pass the NASA long-duration space flight physical, which includes the following specific requirements:
As of May 2020 [update] the corps has 48 active astronauts consisting of 16 women and 32 men or 33.3% female and 66.7% male The corps also has 18 "management astronauts", who are "employed at NASA but are no longer eligible for flight assignment". The highest number of active astronauts at one time was in 2000 when there were 149. All of the current astronaut corps are from the classes of 1996 (Group 16) or later.
There are currently 19 "international active astronauts", "who are assigned to duties at the Johnson Space Center",who were selected by their home agency but trained with and serve alongside their NASA counterparts. International astronauts, Payload Specialists, and Spaceflight Participants are not considered members of the NASA Astronaut Corps.
The term "Astronaut Candidate" (informally "ASCAN") refers to individuals who have been selected by NASA as candidates for the NASA Astronaut Corps and are currently undergoing a candidacy training program at the Johnson Space Center. The most recent class of Astronaut Candidates was selected in 2017 after receiving more than 18,300 applications. Upon completion of a two-year training program, they were promoted to the rank of Astronaut in January 2020.
Only three Astronaut Candidates have resigned before completing training: Brian O'Leary and Anthony Llewellyn, both from the 1967 Selection Group, and Robb Kulin of the 2017 group. O'Leary resigned in April 1968 after additional Apollo missions were cancelled, Llewellyn resigned in August 1968 after failing to qualify as a jet pilot, and Kulin resigned in August 2018 for unspecified personal reasons.
Selection as an Astronaut Candidate and subsequent promotion to Astronaut does not guarantee the individual will eventually fly in space. Some have voluntarily resigned or been medically disqualified after becoming astronauts but before being selected for flights.
Civilian candidates are expected to remain with the Corps for at least five years after initial training; military candidates are assigned for specific tours. After these time limits, members of the Astronaut Corps may resign or retire at any time.
Three members of the Astronaut Corps (Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger B. Chaffee) were killed during a ground test accident while preparing for the Apollo 1 mission. Eleven were killed during spaceflight, on Space Shuttle missions STS-51-L and STS-107.Another four (Elliot See, Charles Bassett, Theodore Freeman, and Clifton Williams) were killed in T-38 plane crashes during training for space flight during the Gemini and Apollo programs. Another was killed in a 1967 automobile accident, and another died in a 1991 commercial airliner crash while traveling on NASA business.
Two members of the Corps have been involuntarily dismissed: Lisa Nowak and William Oefelein. Both were returned to service with the U.S. Navy.
An astronaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft. Members of the space program of Russia or the Soviet Union are referred to as cosmonauts. Although generally reserved for professional space travelers, the terms are sometimes applied to anyone who travels into space, including scientists, politicians, journalists and tourists. The root "naut" derives from "nautes", Greek for "sailor."
The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) is NASA's center for human spaceflight, where human spaceflight training, research, and flight control are conducted. It was built and leased to NASA by Joseph L. Smith & Associates, Inc. It was renamed in honor of the late US president and Texas native, Lyndon B. Johnson, by an act of the United States Senate on February 19, 1973.
Léopold Eyharts is a French Brigadier General in the French Air Force, an engineer and ESA astronaut.
The Mercury Seven were the group of seven astronauts selected to fly spacecraft for Project Mercury. They are also referred to as the Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1. Their names were publicly announced by NASA on April 9, 1959. These seven original American astronauts were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. The Mercury Seven created a new profession in the United States, and established the image of the American astronaut for decades to come.
The United States Astronaut Badge is a badge of the United States, awarded to military pilots, naval flight officers, navigators/combat systems officers, flight surgeons, and civilian pilots who have completed training and performed a successful spaceflight. A variation of the astronaut badge is also issued to civilians who are employed with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as specialists on spaceflight missions. It is the least awarded qualification badge of the United States military.
NASA Astronaut Group 3 was a group of fourteen astronauts selected by NASA. Their selection was announced in October 1963. Four died in training accidents before they could fly in space. All of the surviving ten flew in the Apollo program; five also flew Gemini missions. Aldrin, Bean, Cernan and Scott walked on the Moon.
NASA Astronaut Group 4 was a group of six astronauts selected by NASA in June 1965. While the astronauts of the first two groups were required to have an undergraduate degree or the professional equivalent in engineering or the sciences, they were chosen for their experience as test pilots. Test pilot experience was waived as a requirement for the third group, and military jet fighter aircraft experience could be substituted. Group 4 was the first chosen on the basis of research and academic experience, with NASA providing pilot training as necessary. Initial screening of applicants was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences.
The European Astronaut Corps is a unit of the European Space Agency (ESA) that selects, trains, and provides astronauts as crew members on U.S. and Russian space missions. The corps has 13 active members, able to serve on the International Space Station (ISS). The European Astronaut Corps is based at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. They can be assigned to various projects both in Europe or elsewhere in the world, at NASA Johnson Space Center or Star City.
Gregory Carl "Ray J" Johnson, , is a former American naval officer and aviator, test pilot, aerospace engineer, and NASA astronaut. He spent his military career in both, the United States Navy and the Navy Reserve. Johnson was the Pilot on Space Shuttle mission STS-125, the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.
Douglas Gerald Hurley is an American engineer, former Marine Corps pilot and current NASA astronaut. He piloted space shuttle missions STS-127 and STS-135, the final flight of the space shuttle program. He launched into space for the third time as commander of Crew Dragon Demo-2, the first crewed spaceflight from American soil since STS-135 and became one of the first two astronauts, together with Bob Behnken, launching aboard a commercial orbital spacecraft in the spaceflight history. He was also the first Marine to fly the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. His call sign is "Chunks", and he was sometimes referred to by this name on the communication loops.
Astronauts hold a variety of ranks and positions. Each of these roles carries responsibilities that are essential to the operation of a spacecraft. A spacecraft's cockpit, filled with sophisticated equipment, requires skills differing from those used to manage the scientific equipment on board, and so on.
NASA Astronaut Group 7 was a group of seven astronauts accepted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on August 14, 1969. It was the last group to be selected during the Project Apollo era, and the first since the Mercury Seven in which all members were active-duty military personnel, and all made flights into space.
NASA Astronaut Group 8 was a group of 35 astronauts announced on January 16, 1978. It was the first NASA selection since Group 6 in 1967, and was the largest group to that date. The class was the first to include female and non-white astronauts; of the 35 selected, six were women, three were African American, and one was Asian American. Due to the long delay between the last Apollo lunar mission in 1972 and the first flight of the Space Shuttle in 1981, few astronauts from the older groups remained, and they were outnumbered by the newcomers, who became known as the Thirty-Five New Guys (TFNG). Since then, a new group of candidates has been selected roughly every two years.
NASA Astronaut Group 21 In 2011 NASA opened applications for Astronaut Group 21. The team was announced in June 2013 after a year and a half long search. With four men and four women, the class of 2013 had the highest percentage of female finalists. According to NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins, "it's… a reflection of how many really talented women are in science and engineering these days." NASA received a total of over 6,300 applications, which made it the second highest number received at the time.
Astronaut training describes the complex process of preparing astronauts in regions around the world for their space missions before, during and after the flight, which includes medical tests, physical training, extra-vehicular activity (EVA) training, procedure training, rehabilitation process, as well as training on experiments they will accomplish during their stay in space.
NASA Astronaut Group 22 is a group of twelve astronauts selected in June 2017.
Robb Michael Kulin is an American aerospace engineer, entrepreneur, and former NASA astronaut candidate. He was a member of NASA Astronaut Group 22 but resigned before completing astronaut training.
The JAXA Astronaut Corps is a unit of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) that selects, trains, and provides astronauts as crew members for U.S. and Russian space missions. The corps has seven active members, able to serve on the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA Astronaut Group 23 is planned to be selected sometime in 2021.