What are the total costs to train an astronaut from selection until they are ready to go to space? How much time does it take? And is it possible to break down the costs by category (salary, training, medical etc.)?

The specific example I am interested in is Alexander Gerst.

How much did it cost to train Alexander Gerst from the moment of the congratulatory handshake when he was selected into the ESA Astronaut programme to the moment he boarded the Soyuz capsule for the ISS the first time?

If you know about a similar example (NASA, ESA, Роскосмос etc.), that would be fine too.

  • $\begingroup$ Sefe, since you mentioned ESA, are you interested in the cost of ESA's 16-month basic training? Or were you looking for something more? $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage: I am interested in how much it costs to train an astronaut. I thought this is a simple question that should be easy to answer, since other similar questions seem to be answerable at other places. Alas, this does not seem to be the case here. As for your specific comment. Was the 16 month basic training enough to make Alex ready for the ISS? Then, yes the basic training. If not then - as the question specifically mentions - the entire cost until then. $\endgroup$
    – Sefe
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 20:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble: Isn‘t that the point of a Q&A? You ask something you don‘t know about, someone answers and then you do? Some expert could just pick an example he knows about and write about it. Maybe you need to be a rocket scientist to not find it bizarre that so far the only reaction is a debate whether this is a good question. $\endgroup$
    – Sefe
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 5:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, @Organic Marble, I think this (How much does it cost to train an astronaut?) is a question with as good way to give an answer as the question about O/F ratio in SuperDraco engines. About as specific and with about as much information available. $\endgroup$
    – Arris
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble: Economics has centuries of experience of breaking down fixed costs. Any company that is bigger than a couple of people can do (and has to do) cash flow calculations. How do you calculate the price of a built-for-purpose product if there is no way to do that? If you would start outsourcing the astronaut training you would face exactly this issue since your service provider would want to make a profit (even a not-for-profit company wouldn't want to make losses). $\endgroup$
    – Sefe
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 6:49

1 Answer 1


Check this answer on Quora:

Figures quoted by the BBC yesterday, as they showed UK astronaut Tim Peake reaching the International Space Station, suggested £16M and 6 years of training. There may be an improvement in the economics if a nation sponsors multiple astronauts.

I think for Alex Gerst it would be a similar quote, but remember that Mathias Maurerer is also a German Astronaut who graduated from Basic Training.

Later edit:

Today at the saturation diving classes at university I heard from one of our professors that training astronaut cost 15 million USD. This is very close to the previous estimates and seems to confirm it.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice find! Welcome to space stack exchange. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the reply. I had seen this link before but this is quoting another quote without a source. I was hoping for a first hand account by someone who is in the business of training astronauts. $\endgroup$
    – Sefe
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 20:29

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