When I was an undergrad I seemed to have a surprising number of friends whose stated career goals were to become astronauts. Given that this profession is not only one of the most challenging, but also one of the most difficult to break into, it is of little surprise that none of them ever adorned the blue flight suit.
Now that the space shuttle fleet has retired, it would seem logical that NASA would pare down its astronaut corps. But the exodus has occurred naturally, with many seasoned space explorers either choosing to retire or seek employment in the private sector.
That has left NASA a bit short in terms of qualified staff to meet our space obligations, so this fall NASA will begin taking applications for about a dozen openings. If you have ever dreamt of floating in outer space, then this may be your shot to apply.
Astronauts typically have degrees in math, science or engineering (many with advanced degrees in those fields) and have established themselves as experts in their discipline. Naturally, those with flight experience in high performance aircraft are coveted as well.
In this next round of hires though, there is a new emphasis. The official language of the international space program is english, but since, for the foreseeable future anyway, NASA will be relying heavily on our comrades from Russia, the ability to speak in their native tongue is a plus.
For those that are otherwise exemplarily qualified, NASA will provide language training. But a familiarity with Russian could just give you the leg up you need to land the job that many have sought, but few have obtained.
Image Credit: NASA