NASA has started recruiting its next group of astronauts, officials announced today.
The space agency will accept applications for its astronaut training program on USJobs.gov until Jan. 27, 2012, and pick a class of 8 to 12 people by March 2013, Fox News reported. Training begins at Johnson Space Center in Houston in summer 2013.
NASA recruits new astronauts every two to four years, Space.com reported. Currently, the agency only has 61 active astronauts in its ranks.
While the Space Shuttle program has ended, NASA still needs astronauts to conduct research at the International Space Station, which is expected to remain in orbit through 2020 at least, and maybe until 2028, Space.com reported. Other space missions in the works include flying to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by the mid-2030s.
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"Some of the astronauts we're recruiting today will be pioneers in our missions to make the first footprints on the surface of Mars," NASA chief Charlie Bolden said during a briefing today, according to Space.com.
Job requirements include a bachelor's degree in engineering, science or math and three years of "relevant professional experience” like flying jets or conducting significant scientific research, Fox News reported.
According to Fox News:
Since astronauts will be expected to fly on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, they must fit Russia's physical requirements for its cosmonauts. That means no one under 5 foot 2 inches or over 6 foot 3 inches.
A civilian astronaut candidate can expect to make $65,140 to $100,701 per year, based on academic achievements and experience, ABC News reported.