Career Detail


Mission Specialist
“The Final Frontier”
Mission specialist astronauts work with the commander and the pilot and have overall responsibility for coordinating operations.
The Job
Mission specialists perform extravehicular activities (EVAs), or space walks, operate the remote manipulator system, and are responsible for payloads and specific experiment operations.
Work Environment
Astronauts are responsible for technical duties and training at NASA when they are not training for a specific flight or conducting a mission.
College Majors
Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics.
Minimum Qualifications
Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics. An advanced degree is desirable. Ability to pass a NASA space physical. Distant visual acuity: 20/200, Blood pressure: 140/90, Height between 58.5 and 76 inches.
Personality traits helpful for this career
Astronauts are expected to be team players and highly skilled generalists with just the right amount of individuality and self-reliance to be effective crew members.
Quick Facts
  • Becoming an astronaut is extremely competitive, with an average of more than 4,000 applicants for about 20 openings every two years. Astronaut recruiting occurs periodically.
  • Applicants must meet physical standards and educational requirements, which include a bachelor's degree in engineering, math or science and at least three years of experience in one of these fields.
  • Mission specialists may be engineers, scientists, or physicians who have extensive research experience.
  • Teaching experience, including experience at the K-12 level, is considered to be qualifying experience; therefore, educators are encouraged to apply.
Compensation and Outlook
Salaries for civilian Astronaut Candidates are based on the Federal Government's General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-11 through GS-14. Each person's grade is determined according to his/her academic achievements and experience. Currently, a GS-11 starts at $59,493 per year and a GS-14 can earn up to $130,257 per year.
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