Each year, only a handful of elected officials are selected from thousands of applications
Among the relatively recent professions that have been the dream of entire generations, the astronaut is one of the most coveted. After exploring his planet, mankind began to want to understand his universe. The astronaut is a profession of the future and becomes one after a real journey of combat. Whether in America, France, China, or Russia, programs remain intensive and places are limited. Let’s see together what are the conditions required to achieve this.
THE EXAMPLE OF NASA
The minimum requirements for this position at NASA, the flagship U.S. space agency, are the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree and a successful medical exam. These are simple requirements, but in reality, they seem like pipe dreams. In 2016, out of 18,300 candidates, only 120 were elected. Places are limited, the jury is tough. So it takes more than good health and a degree in hand to be eligible for the Holy Grail of exploration.
To find out more, our Curiosity colleagues interviewed Anne Roemer, NASA‘s Director of Astronaut Selection. They were also able to interview Shannon Walker, a cosmonaut for the past ten years. Logically, we learn that the astronaut nomination process includes many more criteria than initially requested: professional experience is widely favored, although all backgrounds are accepted. We find former veterinarians, oceanographers, and military pilots. In short, these are the foundations of capabilities that can be reused and put to work for the American space agency.
According to Anne Roemer, “NASA is looking for people who are not only qualified in their field but who have a variety of skills and interests. Here’s the keyword to make her application stand out from the pile of applications that grows larger every year. In order to stand out, you need to find something to intrigue your reviewer, who is well-versed in the thousands of projects he or she reviews. Finally, as she insists, perhaps the most important thing is to “try again. Walker, the astronaut who accompanied her during this interview, took a look at her own history, where she participated five times, in 94, 96, 98, 2000, and 2004, with the intention of getting her job. The last attempt was the right one, and according to her, each time is different.