Starting in December, you can apply to become a NASA astronaut. Starting Dec. 14, the space agency will accept applications for the next class of astronaut candidates — some of whom may be involved in a future Mars mission.
“This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.
“Those selected for this service will fly on U.S. made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station, and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space,” he added.
On paper, there aren't many strict requirements for those who hope to be considered for a position as an astronaut.
In order to be a viable applicant, you must have at least a bachelor's degree in a science, tech, engineering or math field. Applications should also "have at least three years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft," NASA said, and they need to be able to pass a physical exam (which is probably no walk in the park).
After applying, you'll have a bit of a wait before you find out if you've been chosen for a coveted and very competitive spot as an astronaut candidate (or ASCAN as they're referred to within NASA).
The agency isn't planning to announce its picks until mid-2017, according to the announcement. This class of astronauts will likely have the chance to fly on four different spaceflight crafts, according to NASA.
At the moment, the private spaceflight companies Boeing and SpaceX both have contracts with NASA to start flying astronauts to the ISS by 2017 using the CST-100 Starliner and Crewed Dragon respectively. This class should also be able to fly to space onboard the Orion spacecraft, designed to bring humans to deep space destinations.
“This is an exciting time to be a part of America’s human space flight program,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
At the moment, there are 47 people that are active members of NASA's astronaut core. The space agency chose its last class in 2013. That group of eight people included members of the U.S. Air Force and Navy, scientists and a doctor. NASA received more than 6,100 applications for its last call for candidates.
Apply to become an astronaut directly through NASA. The application deadline is in February 2016.