I study at a High School in Bucharest, and I want to know what kind of education or subjects I need so that I can work in an International Space Station and stay there for 6 months.

In the high school, I’m in Natural Protection, where we study how to protect nature and how things works in nature.

I have tried to find this information on the Internet, but the result was unclear.


  1. Can anyone tell me what subjects I need so that I can work for NASA on the ISS, to stay 6 months and days there, and also to have missions to go outside of the ISS?
  2. Why it is required to learn Russian to be on the ISS when English is indeed an international language and should be used on the ISS? Because, really, the ISS is an American space station and not a Russian space station.
  3. And what are the steps for me to get hired by NASA and to be sent to the ISS?

My only wish is to be somebody that works on the ISS, and stay for 6 months and days, and to go outside of the ISS to work. Because I really wish to see Earth from space.

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    If I were you, I would read Chris Hadfield's A Guide to Life on Earth... When he first wanted to become an astronaut, it was all but impossible as Canada didn't have an astronaut corps or any means of getting people into space, but he decided the best he could do was to prepare as well as he could, and if the opportunity would arise, he would be ready to seize it. Truly inspirational book, and even more so for you, I would imagine :). – Happy Koala Oct 11 at 11:45
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    ISS is an American space station and not Soviet space station. No, ISS is International Space Station. It was built mainly by USA and Russia with contributions of multiple other countries. The whole ISS consists of two sections by ownership: Russian Orbital Segment and US Orbital Segment. – pabouk Oct 11 at 14:26
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    Not only is the ISS jointly controlled by the US and Russian space programs, the only way for a person to get there is on a Russian rocket. The US currently has no capability to transport a person to space. – Seth R Oct 11 at 16:32
  • @Strawberry: To be fair, fourth-generation Soyuz capsules (in service since 1986) have a similar safety record to the Space Shuttle. Consulting this list, modern Soyuz capsules have now had three major launch/landing mishaps (none of which were fatal) out of 66 launches. In contrast, STS had two fatal accidents and about five serious malfunctions during launch/landing, out of 135 launches. Surprisingly, strapping yourself to the top of a can full of combustible chemicals involves a certain amount of risk. – Michael Seifert Oct 12 at 20:16

As Antzi states, NASA only employs US nationals in its astronaut corps. However, Romania joined ESA (the European Space Agency) in 2011 and ESA has its own astronaut corps. As a Romanian national you might be able to go to space as an ESA astronaut.

ESA last recruited astronauts in 2009 - this page gives some details of how they selected astronauts: How to become an astronaut

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    NASA employs only US nationals, yes. But couldn’t a naturalised citizen apply? Obviously ESA would be a better try but if someone is really bent on becoming an astronaut is citizenship really an issue? – 11684 Oct 11 at 12:04
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    ESA has facilities all over Europe. I believe the astronaut corps is nominally based at ESTEC in the Netherlands, though in practice ESA astronauts currently spend most of their training in Russia and the rest in various other locations. – stuart10 Oct 11 at 12:05
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    Naturalised American citizens and duel nationals can become astronauts - e.g. Michael Foale was born in the UK but obtained US citizenship and later spent more time in space than any previous NASA astronaut. Obviously though, getting US citizenship is not easy if you aren't born with it. – stuart10 Oct 11 at 12:10
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    @stuart10 getting US citizenship might not be easy, but empirically it still is a piece of cake compared to becoming an astronaut. – Jeffrey Oct 12 at 19:04
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    @AlexA The location of all of ESA's facilities is on their web site. The European Astronaut Centre is in Köln, next to CGN airport. – Mike Harris Oct 13 at 3:22

It sounds to me like you are getting caught up in the weeds. Don't worry about specific rules and regulations. Work towards putting yourself in a position where you will be a qualified astronaut candidate.

There are two ways of doing this:

  1. Join the military. If you are a highly talented pilot, it will open many doors for you in the future.
  2. Become a scientist. Most of the non-military astronauts are PhDs. Put yourself in a situation where you deserve to be on a space station.
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    How can the asker become a qualified astronaut candidate without worrying about the specific rules and regulations for doing that? If the rules say you must, I don't know, wear a green hat every Thursday, then the asker had better do that. – David Richerby Oct 11 at 18:13
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    @DavidRicherby You don't become an astronaut by checking off boxes on an application, you become an astronaut by being one of the best in the world at your given job. If he can do that, the rest may come. If he can't do that, the rest won't come regardless of how well he follows rules. – Jamie Clinton Oct 11 at 18:15
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    OK, I'll become the best in the world at brewing beer or something. Can I be an astronaut then? No. I agree that it's not a literal box-ticking exercise but you still need to be in the general area around where the boxes are. – David Richerby Oct 11 at 18:17
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    @DavidRicherby, you can be if a beer brewer is what the ISS crew needs. Very few in the astronaut corp set out their careers to be astronauts. They got there by being the best pilot/engineer/scientist/whatever in their field and then just happened to have the skills the space program needed at the time. If you are the world's foremost expert in a skill they need on the ISS, where you come from is secondary. – Seth R Oct 11 at 21:46
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    @DavidRicherby the boxes on the page will reconfigure themselves before our eyes, and new pages will appear! Rules change over time, and there will almost certainly be private companies who have or at least select/specify their own astronauts someday. Maybe this answer does not address specifically getting on to the ISS itself, but I think "go for it" is the proper mindset for someone graduating around 2020. – uhoh Oct 12 at 8:02

I'm sorry but... It's likely impossible for you.

Romania isn't an ISS partner, and doesn't have an astronaut corp, so assuming you have only the Romanina nationality there is currently no clear path for you.

You specifically mention NASA but.. NASA jobs are open to Americans only.

Moreover, the ISS end of life might come in 2025, and assuming you need a few years to graduate, more to get a degree, work experience, get hired, do the training... The ISS might not exist at that point anymore.

However, if you are serious about it, you shouldn't give up hope of going to space. Access is getting cheaper and cheaper, and more opportunities will open! Lookup How to become a NASA astronaut and start working towards that goal. Maybe in a few years an opportunity will arise!

  • Do you have an idea that NASA will build a new ISS after the death of previous ISS? Or this is it? No more space stations? – Alex A Oct 11 at 7:59
  • @AlexA There are various plans, but it's too early to have any definite answer. – Antzi Oct 11 at 8:08
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    Romania is a member state of ESA, which does have an astronaut corps. – djr Oct 11 at 11:19
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    Yes, what djr said; NASA is not the only space programme. Maybe the ISS will retire soon but becoming an astronaut and seeing earth from space is still very well on the table for @AlexA; of course there are many (many!) applicants so you may not get in, but if you are in high school you still have as much chance as anyone. And looking at the NASA requirements (I imagine the ESA requirements are similar): if you fulfil those requirements it means you have a degree in a lucrative field and are in excellent physical shape; even if you don’t end up an astronaut you’d be doing quite well. – 11684 Oct 11 at 12:01
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    @Graham Is your comment missing a "not" somewhere? Otherwise it reads "The ISS worked well so they won't do anything like that again". – Martin Bonner Oct 12 at 8:55

Your question 2:

Why it is required to learn Russian language in ISS when English language is indeed an international language, and should be used English language in ISS? Because, really. ISS is an American spice station and not Soviet space station.

The ISS is an international station. The USA is the biggest contributor, but Russia and many other nations also contribute. You need to learn Russian because at the moment the Russian Soyuz capsule is the only vehicle that can transport people to the station, so everyone needs to know how the Soyuz works so they can operate the capsule in an emergency.

All labels in the Soyuz capsule and all text on the Soyuz displays are in Russian.

As Antzi says, it'd be a long and difficult road to get hired by NASA as an astronaut. Fortunately, several companies are working on their own manned space programs (for example, SpaceX and Boeing) so in a few years, there may be other ways to get into space.

  • "...so everyone needs to know how the Soyuz works so they can operate the capsule in an emergency." That's clear but not the need to learn Russian. You could probably get to know how the Soyuz works also if everything regarding it were translated into English and all personnel were speaking English. I think the point about English being an international language is kind of valid. – Trilarion Oct 12 at 14:50
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    Why it is required to learn Russian language in ISS when English language is indeed an international language -> I'd also add "To read the escape manual for a Soyuz" – ggdx Oct 12 at 14:52
  • More on this: space.stackexchange.com/questions/8644/… – Hobbes Oct 12 at 15:21

Be wealthy enough to be a space tourist

My only wish is to be somebody that works on the ISS, and stay for 6 months and days, and to go outside of the ISS to work. Because I really wish to see Earth from space.

You will not be an astronaut, but now space is reachable for you. When you will be wealthy enough you can buy your way to space to see Earth from there. More and more companies talk about sending tourists to space. It is called Space tourism.

Space tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. There are several different types of space tourism, including orbital, suborbital and lunar space tourism. To date, orbital space tourism has been performed only by the Russian Space Agency. Work also continues towards developing suborbital space tourism vehicles. This is being done by aerospace companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. In addition, SpaceX (an aerospace manufacturer) announced in 2018 that it is planning on sending two space tourists on a free-return trajectory around the Moon on the upper stage of SpaceX's BFR rocket, known as the Big Falcon Spaceship (BFS).


I think it could be affordable and common enough for first class-citizen in a dozen of years. If you are very wealthy, it is already possible.

Mark Richard Shuttleworth is a South African entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Canonical Ltd., the company behind the development of the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system. In 2002, he became the first South African to travel to space as a space tourist.


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    Yeah, I have to agree it's likely to be easier for him to buy his way there eventually. Especially in a couple decades as space travel gets more well-established and cheaper. – Kevin Oct 12 at 16:53
  • Reminds me of Dan Pena - "ant to change the world, make a billion dollars first" but is likely true. Especially given that the ISS may not be around when he qualifies (20 years?). But a replacement will, and the program may expand. – TomTom Oct 12 at 17:24
  • Aaaaa, but like it’s not fair. One suppose to study hard and a lot for one to get to space, not by money… right? – Alex A Oct 14 at 8:37
  • @AlexA You can study hard and fail. Meritocracy is mostly a myth. But hey, Keep fulfill your dream to go to the ISS. If you missed, you will land between stars :) – aloisdg Oct 14 at 9:41

While you're asking specifically about the ISS I would suggest you broaden your approach. Your general research is:

How can I become an astronaut

I suggest checking at the source. NASA and ESA are obvious choices but there are also commercial projects where the career path might be more clear.

Here are links to NASA and ESA career paths explanation.

Since your main concern now should be education and other kind of preparations these excerpt from NASA might be a good guide:

So, What Does It Take to Be an Astronaut?

Astronaut requirements have changed with NASA's goals and missions. A pilot's license and engineering experience is still one route a person could take to becoming an astronaut, but it’s no longer the only one. Today, to be considered for an astronaut position, U.S. citizens must meet the following qualifications:

A bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics. At least three years of related professional experience obtained after degree completion OR at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft. The ability to pass the NASA long-duration astronaut physical. Distant and near visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20 for each eye. The use of glasses is acceptable.

Astronaut candidates must also have skills in leadership, teamwork and communications.

Also on this ESA page you can find a file with tests you might be challenged up with.

Those skills/capabilities will be likely sought by every agency/company looking for their astronaut candidates.

Note also that you can expect the space exploration will extend over time opening more and more opportunities. It should mean getting there should get a bit easier over time (i.e. the requirements might decrease over time). Just think how in the past to become a pilot you had to have almost supernatural health and physical capabilities. These days if you are fit to have a driving license you can have a pilot's license as well and it's not much more that is required to become a professional pilot.

So don't get discouraged. Simply try to get as good as you can and keep following your dreams.

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    +n! This is the correct answer! So don't get discouraged. Simply try to get as good as you can and keep following your dreams. – uhoh Oct 13 at 2:23

You asked for specific things to get you to a spacewalk...

Study aeronautical robotics in Canada

Canada occupies a niche in the space community as the experts on robotic arms. This started with the Canadarm on the Space Shuttle, and continued with the Canadarm2 and Dextre on the ISS. The Canadian government pays for the design, construction, and support for the robotic arms, delivering a complete product to NASA. In exchange, the U.S. has promised to get Canadian astronauts into space. The arrangement has been good for both countries, and it is likely to continue in the future.

There have been 12 people given the title of Canadian astronaut (let's call them "Canauts" for short) plus one Canadian space tourist. Four Canauts have served on missions installing or operating robotic arms; three of these Canuats performed spacewalks to work on the robotic arms (including the famous Chris Hadfield). (No other country has had 25% of their astronauts do spacewalks!) Another four Canauts have flown on medical or scientific missions; two of these were later hired by NASA as divisional directors (life science & space medicine). The remaining four Canauts haven't flown (yet?), but three of these became "aquanauts" in a long-term underwater NASA experiment.

As of 2018, Canada is one of the most welcoming countries for immigrants. One Canuat (Bjarni_Tryggvason) is an immigrant and flew on the Space Shuttle for a scientific mission.

While you are still in high school, make sure you do the following:

  • Learn English really well. You won't get into any Canadian university without a TOEFL score of at least 90; in some cases, 100. You need excellent grammar skills, which you will not pick up from the Internet.
  • You need to be very good at mathematics. Learn as much calculus and linear algebra (vectors and matrices) as you can.
  • Take as many science courses as you can. Try to have at least one college-level science course done before finishing high school.
  • If your school has a robotics club or team, join it. The same with an astronomy club.
  • Buy a robotic arm kit on the Internet. Build it. Reprogram it to do something useful. Write about it on your college admissions essay.
  • Research and apply to colleges in Canada.

Good colleges for astronauts in Canada include:

  • McGill University is the "Harvard of Canada". It's also as difficult to get into as Harvard or Cambridge. It is always ranked as the #1 Canadian University for biology, chemistry, medical school, and overall. As an engineering school, it consistently ranks 2nd or 3rd in Canada. Four Canauts earned degrees from McGill. It offers a master's degree in aerospace engineering.

  • University of Toronto consistently ranks as the 3rd or 2nd engineering school in Canada. Three Canauts earned degrees from Toronto. It offers a master's degree in aerospace engineering.

  • Three Canuats have degrees from the Royal Military College. But you can't get in until you are a Canadian citizen. Once you have that, you could get a master's degree in aerospace engineering there.

  • Waterloo University is the "MIT of Canada", with consistently the #1 engineering school. It doesn't have an aerospace engineering program, and no Canauts went there, but it still is respected worldwide. With a Waterloo degree, you'll never have a problem getting a job anywhere in the world.

  • Other schools to consider: York University, University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, McMaster University, Simon Fraser University (good robotics program), University of Victoria, University of Manitoba.

Your first four years are your bachelor's ("undergraduate") degree. During this time:

  • If you are going the robotics route to being an astronaut, choose a degree among mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, physics, engineering physics, or computer science.
  • If you are going the science/medical route to being an astronaut, choose a degree among biology, chemistry, physiology, mathematics, physics, or biomedical engineering.
  • Study hard and get the best grades you can.
  • Continue to learn English.
  • Take 3-4 Russian language courses. This will put you above other astronaut candidates.
  • Try to become a Canadian citizen. You will need this to become a Canaut.
  • Research and apply to graduate school.

Every Canaut has earned a master's degree, after they finished their bachelor's degree. Some even earned a third degree (Ph.D. or M.D). These are all called "graduate" degrees. If you are going the robotics route, get a master's degree in an engineering field (mechanical, electrical, aeronautical) with a research program specifically in robotics; then get a job at MacDonald-Dettwiler. If you are going the scientific/medical route, go to medical school at McGill, then do a family medicine residency at the University of Toronto.

Yeah, this will take at least 10 years to do. But by then, the ISS will likely be obsolete and in the process of being replaced. You can bet that the new space station will have a Canadian robotic arm, and that a Canadian astronaut will be doing a spacewalk to install it. They will be looking for astronauts just as you have finished your education!

  • What about the college of Aerospace Engineer in Bucharest? Is that also good? – Alex A Oct 13 at 21:20
  • There are many fine aeronautical engineering programs throughout the world. The point here is to become a Canadian citizen, and going to a Canadian university will help a lot with that. It also puts you in touch with people who know people inside the Canadian Space Agency. You won't get that by studying anywhere in Europe. – Dr Sheldon Oct 13 at 21:36
  • so thats mean, I have to finish the high school I’m in Romania, and then to go to Canada. – Alex A Oct 13 at 22:24

As someone else mentioned the ISS will be decommissioned soon, so you'll not be going there. But that doesn't mean you can't go to space.

In the beginning of space flight mostly fighter pilots from the airforce become astronauts, but for the last 20 years astronauts have predominantly been scientists.

For the ISS the selection process is a very political process. They look at the countries that contribute to the ISS, how much they contribute and how recently they have supplied astronauts. From there they look at the type of scientists they already have and what type of knowledge they expect to need in the future. So you might be the best doctor in the world, from France, but if France currently has an active astronaut you will likely not be selected for astronaut training.

This means part of it is outside of you control. But there certainly are things that can be done to improve your chances. Mostly by selecting a study that you think will be needed in space exploration in 15-20 years time. Well at the moment nasa, jaxa, esa and private companies are setting their sights on Mars and the moon. Looking at that it seems studies such exobiology, geology and things like that might be good contenders. Anything that would give you a special skill to use on Mars, that can't be done (well) from earth. After your studies you'll want to do a phd specifically in the direction of space travel.

Then get work as closely related to space exploration as you can. If you do geology specialize in mars rock research for nasa for example. Network to get to know the people who can make these descision if possible. And ensure you know when the new recruitment calls are made.

The actual astronaut training will follow when you're selected, but at the very least speak english well. Russian is part of the training at the moment.

  • Oh, I’m sorry but I don’t want to become a military pilot. I don’t want to be pulverized in air... – Alex A Oct 15 at 19:25
  • If you read my answer again you'll see I said that used to be the preferred route, but isn't any more. But being pulverized in air is a risk of the job if you want to become an astronaut though, if that's not for you, you might consider a different occupation. – Sonja Oct 17 at 5:58

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