Busting myths: Nasa clarifies what it really takes to become an astronaut – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Have you ever pondered your potential to join Nasa’s ranks as an astronaut, a term rooted in the Greek for “star sailor”? As Nasa scouts for its latest class of astronauts, here’s a Myth-busting guide for aspirants:
Myth: A background in piloting is essential for all astronauts
Fact: Despite the common belief, being a pilot is not a mandatory criterion to become an astronaut.Nasa values a diverse skill set among its astronaut corps. While flying experience can be advantageous, particularly for certain missions, Nasa also seeks candidates with strong backgrounds in engineering, science, medicine, and more. This diversity ensures a well-rounded crew capable of handling the multifaceted challenges of space missions.
Myth: Perfect vision is a prerequisite for astronauts
Fact: The Myth regarding perfect vision has deterred many potential applicants. However, Nasa’s policy is inclusive of those who have undergone corrective eye surgeries such as PRK and LASIK. The key stipulation is that the surgery must have taken place at least one year prior to application, ensuring stability and no adverse long-term effects. This change reflects advancements in medical technology and a broader understanding of astronaut health and safety.
Myth: Only those with advanced degrees, such as PhDs, can become astronauts
Fact: Contrary to the belief that only PhD holders can become astronauts, Nasa requires a master’s degree in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as the educational minimum. This requirement emphasizes the importance of a solid foundation in technical disciplines. However, exceptions are made for candidates with medical degrees or those who have graduated from test pilot schools, acknowledging the unique contributions these professionals can bring to astronaut missions.
Myth: Military service is a requirement for astronaut candidates
Fact: Nasa does not impose an age limit for astronaut candidates. The selection range in the past, from 26 to 46 years, with an average age of 34, illustrates the agency’s flexibility. The focus is on the candidates’ qualifications, experience, and physical fitness to withstand the rigors of space travel rather than their age.
Myth: Astronaut candidates must fall within a certain age range.
Fact: In terms of qualifications, becoming a Nasa astronaut requires not only a strong educational background and professional experience but also the physical and mental fortitude to undertake long-duration spaceflights. The comprehensive selection process ensures that only the most capable and adaptable candidates join the ranks of those who explore beyond our planet.


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