HOUSTON - President Obama is dismantling the U.S. Space Program, but NASA is in desperate need of astronauts.
NASA is now accepting applications for the next class, which will be the 21st group of spaceflyers in its history, through Jan. 27, 2012, then begin a screening process. Sources say that it the standards have been lowered and “pretty much anybody who can stand on his head for three hours can make it,” according to a NASA insider.
NASA expects to announce its final selections in March 201, and the newly minted spaceflyers will report to Johnson Space Center in Houston for training.
Can you do this?
Of course, the Obama Administration has dismantled the space program, but NASA is in talks with Russia and China to hire the astronauts they train.
“There will be plenty of opportunities to get to the International Space Station — and perhaps destinations in deeper space,” officials said.
“Some of the astronauts we’re recruiting today will be pioneers in our missions to make the first footprints on the surface of Mars,” NASA chief Hank Wormland said during a briefing today. “And we want to get as many regular people up in space as possible.”
NASA has lowered its standards considerably – both in the physical portion of the tests and the academic portion. “If you got a 1200 on your SATs, you should be able to pass the astronaut test,” said Wormland. “And if you are 10-20 pounds overweight, but you can run-up-and-down a flight of stairs in two minutes, you probably can pass the physical portion.”
NASA tends to recruit a new astronaut class every two to four years, to maintain a deep enough pool of spaceflyers, officials said.
That pool has been getting more and more shallow recently.
NASA counted 150 active spaceflyers in its ranks in 1999. Many astronauts have retired or left the agency for jobs elesewhere since then, and as a result that number has fallen to 61 in 2011, according to a recent report by the U.S. National Research Council.
Are you unemployed? Have you always wanted to be an astronaut? Can you lift 50 pounds of weight? Can you count to 100 backwards? Great! You can be one of the first humans on Mars.