ASTRONAUTS attempt to extend our knowledge of space and our adaptation to it, both physiologically and psychologically, by conducting operations and experimental investigations in space. Pilot astronauts serve as both space commanders and pilots. During flight, the commander has onboard responsibility for the vehicle, crew, mission success, and safety of the flight. The pilot assists the commander in controlling and operating the vehicle and may assist in the deployment and retrieval of satellites using the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), referred to as the robot arm or mechanical arm.
Salary, Size & Growth
- $70,500 average per year ($34.00 per hour)
- A medium occupation (29,900 workers in 2010)
- Expected to grow moderately (1.9% per year)
NASA accepts applications for the Astronaut Candidate Program on a continuous basis, as needed, for pilot and mission specialists. Pilot astronaut candidates must have a bachelor's degree in engineering, physical science, biological science, or mathematics and a minimum of 1,000 hours as jet pilot-in-command; flight test experience is highly desirable. Mission specialist astronaut candidates must have a bachelor's degree in engineering, physical science, biological science, or mathematics, and a minimum of 3 years of related, professional experience with progressive responsibilities.