The team at the space administration plans to make the final picks by 2021.

By Nashia Baker
March 03, 2020
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Have you ever dreamed of taking flight as an astronaut with NASA? Good news: Your lifelong goal could soon be a reality, according to Space. NASA is now accepting applications for its next class of astronauts, and eligible candidates have until March 31 at 11:59 p.m. EDT to submit their information. The space agency hopes to announce finalists by the middle of 2021.

astronaut in space
Credit: Getty / NASA

While the selection process is intense—NASA selected only 12 finalists out of 18,300 applicants during the last round of applications in 2017—the last class saw the fruits of their labor when 11 of those people graduated and became qualified for space travel this year. What makes someone an eligible candidate for this opportunity? NASA noted that anyone submitting an application should have a master's degree or the equivalent in science, technology, engineering, or math. Still studying for your degree?  Those with two years of work toward a PH.D. in science, technology, engineering, or math; a doctor of medicine or osteopathic medicine degree; or have plans to complete a national or international pilot school program by June 2021 are also able to submit applications.

Other than education requirements, NASA needs all applicants to have at least two years of work in the field or at least 1,000 hours of command-piloting of a jet. All astronaut hopefuls must be able to pass a physical test that will resemble what finalists will experience in a potential six-month-long stint or more in outer space at the International Space Station (ISS).

"Becoming an astronaut is no easy task, because being an astronaut is no easy task," Steve Koerner, NASA's director of flight operations and chair of the astronaut selection board at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said of the challenge to become a NASA astronaut. "Those who apply will likely be competing against thousands who have dreamed of, and worked toward, going to space for as long as they can remember. But somewhere among those applicants are our next astronauts, and we look forward to meeting you."

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