December 16th, 2011
02:59 PM ET

Wanna be an astronaut? NASA details job requirements

As Light Years reported in November,  NASA is looking for a new generation of astronauts to work in the post-shuttle era.  Now we're learning more about what "right stuff" the space agency is looking for.

One of NASA's requirements for its astronauts now is to learn the Russian language.

(How do you say: "Can I hitch a ride on your Soyuz spacecraft to the orbiting space station, please?")

Officials are designing astronaut training to focus on things like emergency medical treatment and diplomacy.

What if you have poor vision? Don't count yourself out.

NASA astronaut Rex Walheim says there's a work-around for that.

Click on the video above to see other details Walheim reveals about astronaut hiring and training.

You can also follow us @CNNLightYears.

Filed under: In Space • News • People in Orbit
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Future Review

    The United States has a Super Secret space fleet that can travel at light speed. Once a planet is found to be worthy of exploration, they'll send the fleet without telling anyone! The most likeliest response will be their obliteration due to human ignorance which will surely be followed up by a hostile invasion force descending upon the earth!

    December 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Tim

      I think you have been watching a little bit to much Syfy shows

      January 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  2. eds

    Acid, comunists, dream crushers, mickey mouse, toast, tents, what the hell is cnn becoming?

    December 19, 2011 at 2:21 am |
  3. Floyd

    I would love to do it but there are more important health issues here on earth. i will work hard to solve any problems brought to my attention. i want to help any way i can.

    December 19, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • James

      yeah your damn right in a way though. But i think the jobs cool

      December 19, 2011 at 12:53 am |


    December 18, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  5. Phil

    I studied to be an astronaut while in school......thats right,...I took up space.

    December 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  6. Future Review

    Phase 1 – Put on a suit which is completely sealed from head to toe. Have someone lock you in a little box, put that box in trunk of the most wreckless NY cab. Eating powdered food everyday. Your mission inside the box will be to fix a semi broken computer with the wrong tools.

    Phase 2 – Live in the Mojave desert during the hottest months inside a car with no wheels but a semi functional air conditioner that you'll have to service, collect samples all day within a 20 mile radius then using the cb radio that you service, try to boost the signal and report your findings to someone in England.

    Phase 3 – Live in a void and realize that you can never go back home, your life is always challenged by the elements and the unknown.

    Phase 4 – Continue a daily journey about your deteriorating life expectancy and the challenges that you must overcome.

    Phase 5 – Realize that you'll proabably ie alone while alien bacteria is slowly pumped into your sealed space suit.

    Phase 6 – Your skeleton is found by your replacement.

    December 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  7. Thunkdeeper

    Short answer, have political connections.

    December 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Dmitriy

      I'm ready for that !! Я готов работать на НАСА , я соответствую всем требованиям , напишите мне на почту пожалуйста !!!

      December 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  8. just me

    Want a chance to be an astronaut? Go to work for dick and burt rutan at scaled composites in mojave calif. A great innovative company. They have a space program in the works. They flew around the world non-stop in voyager. First to ever do so. Some of the nicest guys you will ever want to meet. I have met them and many of the real astronauts who have been to the moon (supposedly) and many of the great test pilots. The advantages of having an aerospace family (gp was in charge of the shuttle motors testing) and other gp was a test pilot. So you want to be an astronaut move to the antelope valley (aerospace valley) have an education in a related field and see if u can get on at scaled composites

    December 17, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • ObjectiveMind

      This industry will have a bleak future. Get employed and get laid-off/fired within months. Do some earthly realistic thing. Joint Main Street or Wall Street, not those sky-high, high-sounding-nothing career, like space travel, or Capitol Hill.

      December 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
      • MIKE

        Booooo, what a bleak point of view, wait, I just realized your comment is less about space and more about politics. I was going to boo you for your bleak point of view on space exploration and the dark alternative main(lame) street or fall street as if those are helping anything. Instead I will boo you for your political satire that is also bleak and dark and unproductive. BOO this man Boooooooooo !

        January 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  9. pulsars

    Here it is 2012 and we have a space station that looks like it was slapped together from recycled rocket parts. When are we ever going to have a "rotating wheel" space station like in the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey"? Some day, an alien space cruiser is going to swing by and take away the ISS thinking it's our recyclables.

    December 17, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • louis

      And the award for the dumbest comment on this article goes to...

      December 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
      • jim

        Louis – I think pulsars' comment was very humorous. Perhaps you're to dumb to have a sense of humor. Incidentally, what is YOUR opinion on this article, or do you even have one?

        December 18, 2011 at 8:13 am |
      • louis

        Maybe I didn't find his remark about the ISS funny.

        December 20, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  10. Jsaon

    This country is a few hippies away from making its best decision in a lifetime. They were right. Peace, love, and prosperity are inspiring. To think of these things as unreasonable possibilities is mindless slave crap. Revolutions and times of enlightenment are what make these fairytale things possible.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  11. helenecha

    Excuse me, NASA. I have no time to learn Russian language. May I try to have three words showed visibly on my aerospace clothes with "happy work together” while riding to the orbiting space station?

    December 16, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  12. Ramon F. Herrera

    It seems that there's a group of people who need not apply: Baggers.

    December 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • sonic10158

      did you really just say that?

      dang, liberals are shallow minded

      December 17, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  13. Stu

    I find it highly unlikely that the U.S. is going to have a space program after WW3 much less a friendship with any country capable of going into space.

    December 16, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  14. Jataka Buddha

    Start looking for ways to solve problems here on this planet before bringing American consumerism into space. There isn't anything on the moon and man will never get to Mars in 500 years. Figure how to get Jerry Springer off the air, that is something to work towards.

    December 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • alex

      this is not a reply to your comment i just think its interesting that astronaut diplomacy will be needed hehe to deal with extraterrestrial life

      December 16, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Dude

      There will always be problems on this planet. Solve one and another will come up. So short of never exploring, there is no way to solve the problems here first.

      Space exploration has given us weather satellites, Landstat and other technologies that have saved countless lives and spotted droughts before they could become full blown famines. Unless you considered people dying due to famine and unforeseen weather to not be problems, then space exploration is solving problems on earth.

      The Moon does have a lot of He3, which is very very scarce on earth. That may well be the fuel of choice for fusion reactors with no radioactive waste product. Moving from coal to fusion for power generation could reduce green house gasses rather drastically. But, we need to be able to get to the Moon to bring it back.

      December 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Richp

      A ready made source of astronauts would be from submariners, we spend months underwater, under pressure and work on highly technical hardware where a mistake will kill you and everyone else, they also have the tempermant and ability to work in close quarters for those same periods of time, not only do they do that but the do it with NO WINDOWS :-)))

      December 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  15. Joe

    How do I apply?

    December 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • duckforcover

      You just did.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:15 am |
  16. taksia janee shelton

    hi, I have something to with seeing alot of sprits in space because I,m at WAR WITH THEM.And it's true i'm #777 the next to go up . i just wanted to see what you working on. I'm helping to clean while im here.Help clean air water of bad harmful things. as well as in outer space.

    December 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  17. Cooper Clark

    Могу ли я делать ставку на ваш космический корабль Союз на орбитальной космической станции, пожалуйста?

    That is how you say "Can I hitch a ride on your Soyuz spacecraft to the orbiting space station, please?" in Russian

    December 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • EF

      "Hej ziomale, podrzucicie mnie swoją bryką do naszego grata na orbicie?" – that's how it sounds in polish 🙂

      December 16, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Jim

      Your hired!

      December 16, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
      • Jim

        Sorry...You're hired!

        December 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Wicked Fairy

      Нщг сфт ршеср ф кшвуб иге ше цшдд сщые нщг $2,014 ьшддшщт Кгидуы сщькфвую
      That is how you say "You can hitch a ride, but it will cost you $2,014 million Rubles comrade." in Russian.

      December 16, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  18. Wall Street Bankster

    Looks like they are trying to bring in more potential astronauts at lower costs.

    Another middle class job soon to be reduced to mickey mouse wages.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Khalid

      Mickey mouse wages. Ha! If they're lucky.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Zutroy

      Middle class? it's a 6 figure job to start........senior guys make a lot more.

      December 16, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
      • spacedoc

        It most certainly isn't a six figure salary. Starts at 60K, and doesn't get much higher.

        December 16, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Wicked Fairy

      Mickey Mouse 'Wages'? Is that payable in 'Moon Cheese?'

      December 16, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  19. Stevens Miller

    I am really sick of clicking on links at that do NOT have the little triangle-in-a-circle that denotes a video article, only to find that it takes me to yet another video article.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  20. america fail

    I hate how american government is trying to make enemies out of these people, the russians should be ally to america, they are good people with a bad government, JUST LIKE AMERICA.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • russia fail .. literally

      I agree with your sentiment, but your comment is still insulting to Americans.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
      • Earth fail

        How so "russia fail"? Are you implying that when someone insults the American govt., the American people should take it personally? I'd rather distance myself from the government as much as possible since what they do is rarely what I would want as an individual.

        December 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  21. Pete

    Lisa Nowack, the lady who drove with an adult diaper on so she didn't have to make bathroom stops on her way to go kill the other female astronaut so she could get the guy she wanted (she didn't succeed), was also deemed by NASA to have the "right stuff."

    December 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • RealSci

      The other female Nowack followed and confronted was not an Astronaut. She was an Air Force officer.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Dude

      They made a big deal out of her wearing the adult diapers. Repeated it every 17 minutes on the news for days.

      But, when it turned out that she was not wearing an adult diaper, the diapers in the car were for an infant, they had never been opened and they were left int he car by someone else weeks before, that was scarcely mentioned.

      She became obsessed with a married co-worker and went over the top to pursue a relationship and she did use pepper spray on his wife. But for the record, the diaper thing never happened.

      December 16, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  22. Guest

    Big deal,Ive been to space before
    It just takes 2 hits of acid
    Theres a broken washing machine on the moon,at least there was the last time I was there

    December 16, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • J

      Love it. Thanks for the laugh on this slow afternoon.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Fixed It

      It isn't broken anymore. I used some parts from one of the dune buggys that litter the landscape to fix it last time I was there.

      December 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
      • Dude

        Yeah, but I used up all my space quarters at the arcade playing Earth Invaders.

        December 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  23. iBod

    "Wanna be an Astronaut?" I would not at all mind giving it a try. I've just become so positive about privatization that I'm almost certain it's not NASA I would likely be working for. I'm sure Sir Richard Branson would be more willing. After all, if we are going to privatize traveling to space, we've gotta be a bit more lenient on lesser critical learning Russian. Psh! Not in this lifetime.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  24. O'Bama Sucks

    Of course we need to learn Russian or Chinese or perhaps Iranian at the speed Obama is taking apart national resources. Good luck on your dreams kids leave America and hitch a ride to the Stars in another nation as we no longer have a viable vehicle to reach Space for the next decade.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • echopolitics

      You are an idiot. We spend more on space exploration than any other nation. For the time being, it is not fiscally or scientifically beneficial to build and maintain a shuttle. We still build the best telescopes and unmanned craft

      December 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
      • David O'Brien-Davis

        at last check the US space program had less than 1% of the federal budget. We spend more money policing the middle east than we do ensuring our own futures in space

        December 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
      • DJ

        I think YOU are the idiot.. The amount of money that goes to space exploration is the exact amount it takes to A/C the tents in Afghanistan. If we spent as much money as you claim we do, I bet we'd be on Mars by now.

        December 16, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Wicked Fairy

      The 57 states OBomi-the-Comi-in-Chief spoke about refers to the 7 new states of Russia, China, Iran, N. Korea, Venezuela, Pakistan, and Mexico. So kids, it's more important to study language skills than science if you want to be an astronaut. Or as they will be renamed, 'Cominaut'.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
      • SpaceCadet

        We advised our astronauts to learn at least one other language before as well. Do you forget how often we hosted other countries on our shuttles? Where did we go? to the INTERNATIONAL Space Station.....populated by not just english speaking Americans.

        December 16, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • SpaceCadet

      Only an idiot thinks Obama shut down the Space Shuttle. That decision was actually made years prior by Presidents choosing not to update/overhaul the Shuttle and commit big bucks in their budgets to do so, well before Obama came on the scene. It was obsolete years before it stopped running. Bush signed its actually final death, not Obama. It was already a dead program upon his arrival. But Bush put nothing in place to be active duirng the "in between" years before the Mission to Mars went live. This stuff takes years to plan, develop, and roll out, and a President and Congress has to plan at least 10 years into the future for any plans they may have for major developments.
      Obama did cut the return to the moon missions though. That is true. However, he didn't gut the budget like many think. In fact, he raised the Space budget overall. The things he has focused funding on though are Near Earth Objects, Mission to Mars, and increasing satellites and smaller discovery missions to other planets/moons. –Many more projects employing many more people through contractors and subcontractors. Way more jobs his way than if mission to moon continued, which sucked up huge sums of money (overbudget) and was way behind schedule and focussed the funding on a narrower field of employers. He made a smart business decision, as well as leading to advancing knowledge that may actually save the planet in the not too distant future.
      (I have worked in Aerospace for years (multiple administrations) and am quite familiar with many of our prior, current, and future Space contracts.)

      December 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
      • ihateidiots

        You Really ARE a "Space Cadet" No, Obama didn't kill the space shuttle, he killed the REPLACEMENT for the space shuttle – his sole objective is to turn the United States into a 3rd world country. To give everyone an "equal share" (even those who sit on their butts and refuse to "work" for a living) and making a laughing stock out of the USA.

        The "Hope & Change" he promised everyone has turned out to be the biggest joke in the history of the country (and now he just wants another 4 years to finish what he started) I shudder to think what condition this country would end up in if he got another 4 years...

        December 16, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
      • SpaceCadet

        He killed the brand new start of development of a new space shuttle that wouldn't be "online" to replace the already absent space shuttle for at least 8 years. Why? because by then we will have the other programs up and running, requiring the workers and facilities to support those efforts. They will be working on bigger and better things. There will also already be commercial aircraft already established for shuttling to the space station.
        It was the past presidents that killed the replacement shuttles that would have continued the program and its employees through the gap until the other projects come online. Don't blame Obama...those decisions were made before him.
        And no, I'm not a liberal either. -just not willing to blame the wrong guy. The Dems have actually funded the Space side of my industry way more over the years than the Republicans ever have. But at least the Repbulicans have upped the Defense budget when they cut the Space one.
        Actually, Obama is the first that has actually increased both budgets in a long time!

        December 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  25. blink

    i have always wanted to be an astronaut. YES.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  26. @government cheese, M.D.

    No, actually Bush did. Do you always get schooled on the Internet? Your online diploma is almost ready...

    December 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  27. Mike

    How do you get a job as an Astronaut? Go to Russia.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • SpaceCadet

      China may be another good option. 😉

      December 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Ramon F. Herrera

      Wrong!!! They don't have Astronauts in Russia: they have Cosmonauts.

      December 16, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  28. just me

    WOW just goes to prove the russkies wonn the space race. You now need to learn russian to be an american astronaut and be a passenger on russian space craft. Hmmm soviet...russian..and I'm thinking back to soviet soon. So where r ur papers commrade?

    December 16, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • us1776

      No. It just goes to prove we've been fighting the wrong enemy for years.

      The Russians are great people. It was the war-profiteers in both countries that purposely wanted us to be enemies.

      I've worked with a number of Russians on various projects over the years. They were all really great people.

      If we could get government and especially religion out of the way then people are generally good and the same around the world.


      December 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
      • EnergyFlow

        one of the greatest and really true post today. It is absolutely true that people, good in their original nature, are actually skillfully manipulated by the rulers and elites through ages.
        Most probably we just need to be open and straightforward with others, appreciating their hard work and conditions they are forced to live in, still managing their duties.

        December 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
      • cleardad

        Well Said !!

        December 16, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
      • Dude

        Billy Crystal did a special in Russia shortly after the USSR collapsed. He said, in Russian, "For decades your government told you we were the enemy. And our government told us you were the enemy. Now we both know that is not true. It's the French."

        Got a big laugh from the Russian audience.

        And who knew that Billy Crystal is fluent in Russian?

        December 16, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Claxton

      So you're forgetting – or maybe didn't even know – that for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975, the Americans (Vance Brand, Deke Slayton and Thomas Stafford) had to learn and speak Russian and the Russians (Valery Kubasov and Alexei Leonov) had to learn and speak English. Besides, it makes good sense for our astronauts to know languages other than English. They have to be prepared in case they come down someplace where English isn't the first language.

      December 16, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  29. government cheese, M.D.

    Didn't Obama fire everyone in NASA?

    December 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Austin

      Yes. He even did it personally, one-by-one. In front of their families.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
      • us1776

        Yeah, and he made sure that he burnt everyone's toast first.

        December 16, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
      • LOL

        ...right after peeing in their cheerios...

        December 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
      • Ramon F. Herrera

        ... and ate their children (after killing their dog).

        December 16, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • SpaceCadet

      Absolutely not. He was the cause of many more peopel getting employed to work on other projects. He shut down the return to the Moon that was going wayyyyy over budget and was not on schedule, that would eventually just be turned over to private investor companies anyway (they should finance that themselves if they get the profits!) However, he funded a lot of other projects that could immediately get worked on and employ many people.
      Much of NASA is essentially in a furlogh status now as the past presidents didn't set up anything to have people busy working on for when the shuttle stopped running, which was known in advance would happen that year. Congress and Obama actually authorized a few "extra" runs just to keep people working -even if they were not cost effective at all. Supposedly all the engineers will be welcomed back in a few years when the Missions to Mars are ready to start testing and blasting off. But hte likelihood is that many will need to go find other jobs rather than sit around for another 5+ years awaiting NASA's next big work generator to be ready.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm |


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