The dream of one day heading to Mars could become a reality — if you’re American.
NASA began accepting applications to become an astronaut on Monday. The agency is looking to the future with the eventual return of human spaceflight launches from American soil and, of course, its plans to head to Mars with the Orion program.
If NASA does indeed continue with its space program plans (it has faced budget cuts and delays and also faces an uncertain future with an incoming new administration next year), the next group of astronauts could see themselves on the International Space Station, the SpaceX crew capsule, the Boeing capsule (both of which are in construction stages) as well as the Orion spacecraft on board the giant SLS rocket which will be the largest ever built.
As for Canadians, there hasn’t been a call for astronauts since 2008 when Jeremy Hansen and David St-Jacques were recruited. Neither has been into space as of yet, but are expected to by 2024. The Canadian Space Agency told Global News that they have no recruitment campaign planned.
NASA candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university of college in engineering, physical science, biological science or mathematics. He or she must also have at least three years of related experience or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in a jet. And, of course, he or she must pass the physical.
The final date for the NASA applications hasn’t yet been given, with the agency just saying that it will accept them until mid-February. Candidates will be announced in mid-2017. Currently, there are 47 active astronauts in the American astronaut corps with a history of 300 to date.