Mar 3, 2020 - Science

Applications are now open to become a NASA astronaut

Photo: NASA

Applications are now open for every fifth grader's dream job: NASA astronaut.

Why it matters: The space agency doesn't put out a call for new astronauts unless they have a need to fill.

  • "With 48 astronauts in the active astronaut corps, more will be needed to serve as crew aboard spacecraft bound for multiple destinations and propel exploration forward as part of Artemis missions [to the Moon] and beyond," NASA said in a statement.

Details: Applications opened on March 2 and will run through the end of the month.

  • Requirements include a master's degree in a STEM field, passing a physical exam, U.S. citizenship and two years of work experience that can be translated to life as an astronaut.
  • NASA will likely select its astronaut candidates from this round of applications in 2021, when they can start training to become full-fledged members of the Astronaut Corps.
  • In a first, the space agency will also administer an online exam that could take two hours to complete.

Background: NASA's most recent class of astronauts just graduated after being selected in 2017.

  • That class of 11 was selected from more than 18,300 people who applied in 2015, the highest number of applications ever received by NASA for the astronaut program.

Go deeper: Astronaut Christina Koch lands on Earth after record-setting mission

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NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in SpaceX's Crew Dragon. Photo: NASA

Even in the midst of the pandemic, SpaceX and NASA are moving ahead with their plans to launch astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time in mid-to-late May.

Why it matters: The launch marks the culmination of years of work for SpaceX and NASA to get Americans flying to orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

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The cosmic perspective on self-isolation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The perspective space provides is essential during these troubled times.

Why it matters: Astronauts live in isolation and look down on our planet with a view that can bring people out of their own experiences, especially during times of extreme and shocking change.

Go deeperArrowMar 24, 2020 - Science

NASA selects experiments to fly aboard its Gateway space station

Artist's illustration of the Gateway. Photo: NASA

Two experiments designed to monitor the space environment will eventually orbit the Moon on NASA's small Gateway space station.

Why it matters: The experiments will keep an eye on the radiation environment in lunar orbit in order to help scientists learn how to keep astronauts safe as they explore deep space.

Go deeperArrowMar 17, 2020 - Science