What Does An Astronaut Do?

The astronauts of the 21st century will continue to work aboard the International Space Station in cooperation with our international partners; help to build and fly a new NASA vehicle, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) designed for human deep space exploration; and further NASA’s efforts to partner with industry to provide a commercial capability for space transportation to the space station.

Astronauts are involved in all aspects of assembly and on-orbit operations of the International Space Station (ISS).  This includes extravehicular activities (EVA), robotics operations using the remote manipulator system, experiment operations, and onboard maintenance tasks.  Astronauts are required to have a detailed knowledge of the ISS systems, as well as detailed knowledge of the operational characteristics, mission requirements and objectives, and supporting systems and equipment for each experiment on their assigned missions.

Unfortunately, it may be a while before I have a video with an astronaut.  🙁    -Dr. Kit

How Do I Become An Astronaut?

A four-year bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics is required to obtain these positions.

In addition, the degree must be followed by at least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience or at least 1,000 pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.  An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience as follows: master’s degree = 1 year of experience, doctoral degree = 3 years of experience.

Finally, applicants must pass the NASA long-duration Astronaut physical, which includes the following specific requirements:  Distant and near visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20 for each eye. Applicants must also meet the size requirements for fitting in spacecraft and space suits.

What is the Average Salary For An Astronaut?

Salaries for civilian Astronaut Candidates are based upon the Federal Government’s General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-11 through GS-14. The grade is determined in accordance with each individual’s academic achievements and experience. Currently a GS-11 starts at $66,026 per year and a GS-14 can earn up to $144,566 per year.

What Courses Should I Take To Become An Astronaut?

  • Science – As much as possible, including physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology!
  • Math – As much as possible, including calculus!
  • English – As much as possible!
  • Communication

What Is The Future Outlook For An Astronaut?

There is very strong competition for these positions.  There were only 45 astronauts several years ago! 


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)