I'm a 16-year-old Bangladeshi girl. I want to be a NASA astronaut. Currently my height is 5 feet 6 inches and weight is 40 kg. I have eyesight problem. Does that matter for becoming an astronaut?
Your height is good. Eyesight is not a problem as long as it can be corrected to 20/20. Glasses are fine. Speaking perfect English is required.
Right now to be a NASA astronaut you need to...
- Be a U.S. citizen.
- Possess a master's degree (or equivalent) in a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) field, including engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics, from an accredited institution.
- Have at least two years of related professional experience obtained after degree completion or at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft.
- Be able to pass the NASA long-duration flight astronaut physical.
But these requirements change. NASA has reading and videos about How To Be An Astronaut. Including 10 Ways Students Can Prepare to #BeAnAstronaut.
That's not the only way to ride into space with NASA, and NASA is no longer the only game in town.
Be a NASA Specialist
NASA will, from time to time, select non-astronauts who had special skills related to the mission: specialists. When they were flying the space shuttle they were payload specialists. These people were not required to be US citizens and did not need the pilot experience. I don't believe they are currently selecting non-astronauts as specialists, but things change.
Be an Astronaut For Another Country
NASA is not the only way to get into space. Other countries have their own human space flight program, and even if they don't have their own they can get a ride with someone who does.
Right in the name, the International Space Station (ISS) is international and, as of this writing, has been visited by 242 people from 19 different countries. Mostly the US and Russia. Not Bangladesh... yet.
Be an Astronaut For a Private Company
Getting to space is hard, but it's getting easier. Getting into space is no longer limited to the US, nor even to governments. Private companies are launching rockets and developing their own spaceships.
SpaceX has their Crew Dragon which is working to take people to the ISS, Boeing is working on their Starliner, Virgin Galactic is working on Launcher One, Blue Origin is working on their Blue Moon lunar lander.
All this has happened very quickly! In 2008 SpaceX put the first privately funded rocket into orbit. Now they're flying people to the space station. They went from crashing rockets to landing a starship... umm, almost. By the time you have your master's degree, there will be many companies sending people into space.
You can buy your way into space. It's very, very expensive, and you still need to be in good physical shape. Space Adventures will get you into space, even onto the ISS, or a trip around the Moon, if you pay millions.
A bit cheaper is Virgin Galactic. If all goes according to plan they will soon take bookings to fly into space (not into orbit yet) for about $US 250,000.
Get a STEM Degree
But space is getting easier! Right now, the best thing you can do is to get a STEM degree, keep practicing English, stay in good physical shape, try to get an aerospace internship, play space simulation games like Kerbal Space Program, and Keep Looking Up!
How about ESA?
This sentence catches the eye:
Applications from women are strongly encouraged
There is a single space station right now. Both NASA and ESA astronauts work at ISS.
Low body weigth and height (to some extent) are actually an advantage in aerospace. You will probably not be exactly the same in the years to come anyway.
Eyesight (if problems are moderate and correctable) is not a big issue.
What matters is:
- Education. Any math-intense field will do. Get a degree. Become a scientist or a high-profile engineer. The education can help you in becoming a citizen of a country with a manned space program as well.
You can try to become an airspace pilot instead. Being an experienced pilot can be a substitute for a science degree for going to space, but this will get less important in the years to come. And it takes generally as much years and effort in general.
Health. An astronaut spends extended periods in space in a rather demanding environment and away from medical services. Most teenagers are negligent to their health and they sorry pretty much at later age, even if they are far from an astronaut carrer.
Don't get in any trouble with the law.
Anything else is quite probable to change as a requirement for an astronaut in the next 10 or 15 years when your probable astronaut carrer is expected to start.
P.S. Try to learn what exactly astronauts do. Most people have quite a romantic image of their work.
NASA is a US government agency - only US citizens can be NASA astronauts, and that's not likely to change. (Of course you could move to the US and become a citizen, but that's difficult and takes a long time.)
However being small is an advantage, and being female is an advantage. If your vision can be corrected with glasses, and if you're smart and work really hard, you can definitely be an astronaut. You were born at just the right time - there will be more astronaut jobs in the next 20 years than there ever have been before. By a lot!
Go to university and get a PhD in engineering - something related to space. Be good at it - top of your class!
By the time you graduate with that PhD there will be lots of companies hiring commercial astronauts - to construct and maintain things in space, to operate complex equipment in space, and more.