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Role Description

Astronauts are trained to be able to perform multiple tasks while on a mission, including piloting the spacecraft, working in space, and conducting scientific research. Before taking part in the first mission, astronauts go through extensive, multi-year training to ensure they are prepared for all possibilities, which is very physically demanding.


The main types of astronauts are mission specialists – who are in charge of scientific research, flight engineers – who carry out the technical tasks on the spacecraft, and pilots.

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Starting salary £40,000
Senior position £60,000 to £80,000+

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While on Earth, working hours are very irregular, with long and extensive training time, including long periods of time being away from home. During a space mission astronauts can be in space for usually six months at a time.

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While it is hard to become an astronaut, most institutions only require you to have a master’s degree in STEM related fields, like physics, astronomy, biology, engineering and many more, and look for candidates with a varied skillset and physical abilities.

Skills Valued by Employers

  • Being able to perform arduous physical activities, including being proficient at swimming
  • Ability to drive a car (possession of drivers licence)
  • Ability to work under stress
  • Ability to solve technical problems by applying specialist technical knowledge
  • Risk management
  • Experience in working as a team


Employers of Astronauts

Job Vacancies

  • For UK and EU citizens, ESA opens their vacancies for Astronaut positions close to every 10 years, with most recent applications closing in 2021
  • NASA opens its applications every four to five years, last being in 2020/21 as well, but requires a U.S. citizenship
  • In the future it is expected that SpaceX might open its own programme for astronauts