14
$\begingroup$

What kind of career should I start if I want to be an astronaut pilot?

First astronauts were military aircraft pilots. Since those days, automatic flying was present in the spacecraft so that someone considered astronauts like spam in a can for their supposed role as passenger.

Is something changed today for astronauts that have pilot role (piloting a spacecraft) or alternative careers can lead to this position? According to this question context, also being a civil pilot is a different professional path.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Are you specifically asking for astronauts who are piloting a spacecraft? Just to rule this out, not all astronauts, who fly into space, are qualified as a pilot (neither for space- nor aircraft). $\endgroup$ – s-m-e Aug 19 '13 at 19:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Aerospace engineering AND you should also be a flyer. Regardless of what there is to pilot up there, tolerating high-gee is a must. Flyers tend to be disciplined (if one isn't one dies or drops out). Aerospace engineering is for the brains (although ISS crew are mostly glorified plumbers). $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Aug 19 '13 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ And on top of them, you will want good mathematics, practical problem solving skills (similarly to antarctic scientists - being able to fix a problem with whatever is to hand is essential when you only have the resources around you and no way to get more in a short timeframe), physics will be useful, high level of fitness... $\endgroup$ – Rory Alsop Aug 19 '13 at 20:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Start by becoming fluent in Chinese or Russian. I'm only partially kidding. $\endgroup$ – Erik Aug 20 '13 at 9:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There are no real piloting roles right now. The only manned spacecraft are soyuz and shenzhou, and these are pretty automated. $\endgroup$ – Innovine May 19 '17 at 15:07
15
$\begingroup$

If you look at the qualifications of U.S. pilot astronauts (not mission or payload specialists) since the original Mercury 7 in the 60's, the overwhelming majority have been military (or ex-military) test pilots with advanced engineering or science degrees. Based on the bios of the most recent astronaut selectees (see picture), that's still true.

2013 NASA Astronaut class

Your best bet would be to start with the Air Force or Naval Academy (or ROTC equivalent at a place like MIT), with an engineering major, followed by flight school, test pilot school, graduate degree in something like engineering or applied physics.

NASA Astronaut Requirements

Obviously, a whole lot easier said than done.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And, consider other options. It goes without speaking that only a tiny fraction of those who aim to be astronauts, actually make it. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Aug 19 '13 at 23:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The vast majority of future American "astronaut pilots" are likely to be employees of private corporations. These are still likely to come from this answers posited sources, but with some variation on the skill set. $\endgroup$ – Erik Aug 20 '13 at 9:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Erik I second that. Going forward into the future there will first be more private pilots, then eventually more pilots in general. But they will still probably come from the same basic pool for a while. Privately employed space pilot positions do however slightly increase the chances that a non-military background person could get accepted. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Aug 20 '13 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage agreed. $\endgroup$ – Erik Aug 20 '13 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ OP could also become a billionaire and fund his own space company. $\endgroup$ – JonathanReez Mar 19 at 20:06

protected by Community May 20 '17 at 17:30

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?