World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

NASA Astronaut Corps

Article Id: WHEBN0030156261
Reproduction Date:

Title: NASA Astronaut Corps  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Gus Grissom, NASA Astronaut Group 7, NASA Astronaut Group 21, NASA Astronaut Group 19, NASA Astronaut Group 11
Collection: Lists of Astronauts, NASA Astronaut Corps, NASA Astronauts, NASA Lists, NASA People
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

NASA Astronaut Corps

NASA space suits previously worn by the Astronaut Corps at the Johnson Space Center

The NASA Astronaut Corps is a unit of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that selects, trains, and provides astronauts as crew members for U.S. and international space missions. It is based at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.


  • History 1
  • Organization 2
    • Salary 2.1
  • Qualifications 3
  • Members 4
    • Astronauts 4.1
    • Astronaut Candidates 4.2
    • Former members 4.3
  • Selection groups 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The first U.S. astronaut candidates were selected by NASA in 1959, for its Project Mercury with the objective of orbiting astronauts around the Earth in single-man capsules. The military services were asked to provide a list of military test pilots who met specific qualifications. After stringent screening, NASA announced its selection of the "Mercury Seven" as its first astronauts. Since then, NASA has selected 20 more groups of astronauts, opening the corps to civilians, scientists, doctors, engineers, and school teachers. As of the 2009 Astronaut Class 61% of the astronauts selected by NASA have come from military service.[1]

NASA selects candidates from a diverse pool of applicants with a wide variety of backgrounds. From the thousands of applications received, only a few are chosen for the intensive Astronaut Candidate training program. Including the “Original Seven”, only 339 candidates have been selected to date.[2]


The Astronaut Corps is based at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, although members may be assigned to other locations based on mission requirements, e.g. Soyuz training at Star City, Russia.

The Chief of the Astronaut Office is the most senior leadership position for active astronauts in the Corps. The Chief Astronaut serves as head of the Corps and is the principal adviser to the NASA Administrator on astronaut training and operations. The first Chief Astronaut was Deke Slayton, appointed in 1962. The current Chief Astronaut is Christopher Cassidy.[3]


Salaries for newly hired civilian astronauts are based upon the U.S. 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. [4] Astronauts can be promoted up to grade GS-15.[5] As of 2015, astronauts based out of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas would earn between $66,026 (GS-11 step 1) and $158,700 (GS-15 step 8 and above).[6]

Military astronauts are detailed to the Johnson Space Center and remain in an active duty status for pay, benefits, leave, and other similar military matters.


There are no age restrictions for the NASA Astronaut Corps. Astronaut candidates have ranged between the ages of 26 and 46, with the average age being 34. Candidates must be U.S. citizens to apply for the program, though applicants with valid U.S. dual-citizenship are also eligible.

There are three broad categories of qualifications: education, work experience, and medical.[7]

Candidates must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. The degree must be followed by at least three years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience (graduate work or studies) or at least 1,000 pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience (master's degree = 1 year or a doctoral degree = 3 years). Teaching experience, including experience at the K - 12 levels, is considered to be qualifying experience.

Candidates must have the ability to pass the NASA long-duration space flight physical, which includes the following specific requirements:

  • Distant and near visual acuity: Must be correctable to 20/20, each eye separately
  • The refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK and LASIK, are allowed, providing at least 1 year has passed since the date of the procedure with no permanent adverse after effects.
  • Blood pressure not to exceed 140/90 measured in a sitting position
  • Standing height between 62 and 75 inches



As of July 2015 the corps has 46 active astronauts[8] and 36 "management astronauts" ("employed at NASA but are no longer eligible for flight assignment"[9]). The highest number of active astronauts at one time, was in 2000 when there were 149.[10] All of the current astronaut corps are from the classes of 1996 (Group 16) or later.

There are currently 19 "international active astronauts" ("those international astronauts who are assigned to duties at the Johnson Space Center"[11]) who were selected by their home agency but trained with and serve alongside their NASA counterparts. International astronauts, Payload Specialists, and Spaceflight Participants are not considered members of the NASA Astronaut Corps.

Astronaut Candidates

The term "Astronaut Candidate" (informally "ASCAN"[12]) refers to individuals who have been selected by NASA as candidates for the NASA Astronaut Corps and are currently undergoing a candidacy training program at the Johnson Space Center. The most recent class of Astronaut Candidates was selected in 2013, and the next class will likely be chosen in 2016-17. Upon completion of a two-year training program, they will be promoted to the rank of Astronaut.[13]

Former members

Selection as an Astronaut Candidate and subsequent promotion to Astronaut does not guarantee the individual will eventually fly in space. A number of people have voluntarily resigned or been medically disqualified after being chosen an astronaut but prior to being selected for a flight.

Civilian candidates are expected to remain with the Corps for at least five years following initial training while military candidates are assigned for specific tours. Following that, members of the Astronaut Corps may resign/retire at any time.

Three members of the Astronaut Corps were killed during a ground test accident while preparing for the Apollo 1 mission. Eleven were killed during spaceflight, on Space Shuttle missions STS-51-L and STS-107.[14] An additional four (Elliot See, Charles Bassett, Theodore Freeman, and Clifton Williams) were killed in T-38 plane crashes during training for space flight during the Gemini and Apollo programs. Another was killed in a 1967 automobile accident, and another died in a 1991 commercial airliner crash while traveling on NASA business.

Two members of the Corps have been involuntarily dismissed: Lisa Nowak and William Oefelein. Both were returned to service with the U.S. Navy.

Selection groups

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ NASA - Astronaut Selection
  3. ^
  4. ^ NASA - Astronaut Selection
  5. ^ Saved job description for Announcement JS12A001, Austronaut Candidate from
  6. ^ SALARY TABLE 2015-HOU, from OPM website, accessed October 6, 2015
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Three Payload Specialists were also killed on the two missions.

External links

  • NASA Astronaut Candidate Program Brochure
  • Current NASA Astronaut Corps Members
  • Former NASA Astronaut Corps Members
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.