Becoming an astronaut takes a lot of work. Luck is also involved since it’s actually harder to get into NASA than to get an admission letter to Harvard!
The intensive selection process ensures that NASA only gets the best of the best of the best, (cue the Men in Black jokes).
As our planetary explorers, astronauts have the enviable role of discovering things in the cosmos like new planets and new life. Given the special mandate, it’s not every day that you get news about NASA hiring. When they actually do, they’re usually looking for specific individuals.
Some of the pre-requisites needed are:
It’s one of the most asked questions on NASA’s website. If you’re intrigued about astronauts’ salary, then, you need to look no further than the Federal Government’s General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-12 through GS-13.
An astronaut salary is determined according to his/her achievements and experience. Given the fact that the grading is used by the government to determine just how much white-collar career employees take home, remuneration varies based on years of service and acceptable performance.
As pet the OPM pay scales, an astronaut salary is about $63,600 annually. Since this is a GS-12 grade and Step 1 experience valuation, there’s the possibility of the figure going upwards to about $82,680 per year. For this to happen (making a jump from Step 1 to Step 10), an astronaut has to perform exemplarily.
Experienced astronauts in GS-13 pay grade have a takeaway package of $75,628 when they’re in Step 1 and the potential to rise up to $98,317 annually after several years in the agency.
Having divulged all this, it’s important to note that astronauts’ salary isn’t locked in the GS-12 and GS-13 pay grades. It’s very possible for them to unlock new dimensions (both figuratively and salary wise). There’s a provision which allows them to step into higher tiers of the pay scale up to GS-15 Step 10 which affords them the opportunity to earn $120,000 per year.
Before you become an astronaut, then, you need to have relevant experience in school. Usually, there are 2 main classes of astronaut applicants:
While having an education may leave some people at a disadvantage since funds are necessary to pay for studies, you’ll be pleased to know that some astronauts actually got aid from military and government programs on their way to becoming astronauts.
Even after you’re cherry-picked by the selection panel, you do not qualify to be an astronaut with immediate effect. For that to happen, you need to undergo an intensive two-year training where you’ll be able to pick up a number of useful attributes.
The lessons include classroom learning about the role of the International Space Station (ISS) and spaceflights. To allow astronauts to become accustomed to the conditions in outer space, NASA requires candidates to be qualified scuba divers. During the training, you’ll also:
Once they’ve graduated, they have to spend a couple of years behind the scenes before you’re assigned a flight. During that period, astronauts perform simulated spacewalks in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory where they get to pick up the right skills they need while in orbit.
The mockups and simulations offered are great for onboard systems orientation and habitability training. Even without ever getting to space, astronauts learn about concepts like equipment stowage, camera use, meal preparation, trash management, and experiment operations.
Military Astronauts have an edge over civilian astronauts because other than the astronaut salary, they get housing allowances. Colonels and captains access about $1,528 monthly without dependents and $1,845 monthly with dependents. Brigadier generals and other high ranking officials get housing benefits totaling $1,667 monthly dependents and $2,050 with dependents.
As you can tell, an astronaut salary is not a fixed figure. You can qualify for extra incentives like aviation career pay which can add in an extra $150-$1,000 per month to your base salary.
It’s incredibly difficult to be selected for the astronaut program. Once you’re on board though, there are plenty of perks other than the astronaut salary. You’ll be charged with the responsibility of being an innovation leader and a sightseer of the worlds. It’s one of the coolest jobs in the universe.
Since we can’t all be astronauts, we’ve come up with an innovative solution for aspiring astronauts. At AstroReality, we’ve devised awesome augmented reality 3D models that will literally take you to the moon and back.