Science, Technology & Environment

Astronaut

Astronauts are trained to fly or be crew members on spacecraft.

  • Entry-level education

    PhD

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does an Astronaut do?

Astronauts are trained to fly or be crew members on spacecraft.

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Work activities

As an astronaut, you would spend most of your time training for space flight and for the tasks you would undertake while in flight.

While in space, you would:

  • maintain and repair the spacecraft, including undertaking spacewalks
  • clean, maintain and repair water systems, oxygen production systems and air filters
  • manage waste disposal systems
  • repair or install scientific equipment
  • carry out scientific experiments and research
  • spend time exercising to keep up muscle and bone density.
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Key skills and interests

To become an astronaut, you would need:

  • superior physical condition and stamina
  • psychological strength to adjust to living in confined spaces for long periods
  • excellent teamwork skills
  • the ability to cope with stress and to stay calm during an emergency
  • excellent flight skills
  • strong scientific skills and understanding.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

During spaceflight, you would work to a set schedule. You could be away from home for extended periods of time; for example you might spend around six months on board the International Space Station.

Conditions

While not on a mission, you could spend time keeping your skills current, and promoting space exploration and spaceflight. This might involve activities like educational events, talks and media interviews.

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How to become an Astronaut?

Entry Level Education

Most spaceflight is currently funded by governments. There are no current spaceflight programs in Australia.

The UK Space Agency is involved in manned spaceflight through the European Space Agency (ESA). The ESA develops Europe’s presence in space together with countries like the USA, Japan and Russia, funding space technology like the International Space Station (ISS).

You could apply to become an astronaut in the European Astronaut Corps based on your academic qualifications, usually at PhD level, or your experience as an aircraft pilot. The selection process takes a number of months and is extremely competitive. Astronaut selection campaigns have only taken place three times since the ESA was created in 1975.

To become an astronaut with the US space agency, NASA, you would need to have US citizenship or US dual-citizenship. NASA accepts applications for the position of Astronaut Candidate on an as-needed basis.

www.esa.int

https://www.nasa.gov/astronauts

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Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of astronauts is sporadic, highly competitive, and based solely on government funding of spaceflight programs internationally.

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