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NASA accepts applications for astronauts for the first time in four years

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
NASA, Flickr

Want to be one of the earlier astronauts to return to the Moon or explore Mars? You now have your chance. NASA has started taking applications for its next round of astronauts, some of them likely to be part of future Moon and Mars expeditions. You'll have until the very end of the month (March 31st at 11:59PM Eastern) to apply, although time isn't the main constraint here -- qualifying is.

NASA says that you'll need to be a US citizen with either a master's degree in a STEM field or an equivalent, such as two years of work toward the doctorate in your field, a medical doctorate or the combination of a completed test pilot school program (finished by June 2021) with a STEM bachelor's degree. You'll also need real-world experience that includes either two years of "progressively responsible" work experience or 1,000 flight hours as a pilot in command. And did we mention that you'll have to pass a long-duration spaceflight physical?

If you do pass muster, though, it's a big opportunity. Barring any changes in plans, the next two decades at NASA will be dominated by lunar and martian expeditions. And even if you don't go, this is the first call for astronauts in over four years. It's a chance to be part of a very small club that has ventured beyond Earth, even if you don't go further than the International Space Station.