Can someone specialize in many areas of science

How do I become an astronaut?

Astronauts see the world from a completely different perspective. They spend several months in space on board the International Space Station ISS in order to carry out a large number of different research projects. In total weightlessness, they have a well-timed working day that includes not only conferences with Earth but also sports units. If you have the dream of becoming an astronaut, you will first complete a degree in biology, physics, medicine or chemistry, for which you will need around 9 to 12 semesters up to the master’s degree. The specialized study of aerospace engineering is just as useful for you. About half of all astronauts also have a doctorate, so that you improve your chances with a subsequent doctorate. If you feel ready, apply to the European Space Agency ESA, which will put you through its paces in its selection process in various areas. If successful, you will then go through an apprenticeship as an astronaut candidate for around 4 years.

What does everyday work look like?

Once you have made it into space and on the ISS as an astronaut, your workplace will be your home for several months at the same time. Here you can find out what your life on board is like:

07:00 a.m.

Your day on the space station starts early with the wake-up call. You unbuckle yourself from the straps of your bed on the wall and take care of your personal hygiene first. To save water, freshen up with a damp cloth. You also change your clothes and throw the old one in the trash, as there is no washing machine.

07:50 am

The first of three daily meals is on the schedule. You will have a couple of slices of bread today. The consistency of these reminds you of flat cakes, because there must not be any crumbs that could damage or clog the appliances inside. That's why you drink your coffee through a straw.

8:45 a.m.

You appear on time for the conference with the six-person crew. One after the other, you will contact the respective ground stations of the USA (NASA), Russia (Roscosmos), Europe (ESA) and Japan (Jaxa). You will receive detailed information on the upcoming projects and experiments.

9.15 a.m.

Before you tackle your first job, you first do a lot of sport. Because of the weightlessness, your muscles break down very quickly. Therefore, you swing on the exercise bike and pedal a few kilometers. You also go to the treadmill, where springs press you left and right on the surface.

10:30 am

Now you start with the practical work. As part of your ongoing biochemical study, you are investigating how your immune system and hormone levels change when you are in space. Because on the ISS you are exposed to special stress factors such as isolation, workload and sleep disorders. This can lead to allergies or autoimmune diseases.

13:00 'O clock

You have successfully put the morning behind you. Now it's time for a lunch break. You take your food out of a can. Today it contains tuna with rice in a cream sauce. Everything is heavily spiced, because the weightlessness means that you have less taste sensation than with a strong cold.

14:00 clock

The second sports unit of the day is on the program. You go to a strength machine, on which you train different muscle groups using a cable pull. The main thing now is to strengthen your upper body.

3:15 p.m.

In the afternoon you will test a self-moving robot with artificial intelligence that will assist the crew on future missions as an everyday helper. You can access databases and other documents via voice control and record a stream of yourself.

6:00 p.m.

The last big and warm meal of the day is waiting for you. There are several ready meals to choose from, which you can moisten and then heat up. Today you choose cheese spaetzle. These and all other dishes are extra sticky and soggy due to the addition of gelatine, so that it is easier for you to bring them to your mouth with the cutlery from the bag.

7:00 p.m.

The day is almost over. Your last official act is the renewed conference and meeting with the ground stations. You will gradually report on the experiments carried out, the results obtained and problems encountered. Then you can retreat to your private bedroom.

10:25 p.m.

After talking to friends on the phone on your laptop, it is slowly time to go to sleep. Because almost 9 hours of sleep are a must for you in order to cope with the exertion on the space station in the long run.

requirements

  • High School; University entrance qualification
  • Physical characteristics such as minimum size and good eyesight
  • Nerve strength
  • Teamwork
  • Thirst for adventure & thirst for research
  • All-round skills

What does an astronaut do?

As an astronaut, you will usually spend about half a year on the International Space Station. Your most important activity during this time is research. So you carry out around 50 to 100 experiments that are thematically very broad and mostly run automatically. In the field of medicine, for example, you deal with the effects of weightlessness on the human body. Due to the significantly lower stress, muscles and bones shrink, which is relevant both for researching certain diseases such as osteoporosis and for planning future longer space trips to Mars. Astronomers are also interested in cosmic rays from distant galaxies, which break down into smaller particles on the earth's surface. With the help of a measuring device, you check the energy content and determine the direction of origin. In the course of this, you are also trying to find out more about dark matter that could be responsible for the radiation. With further studies you will also examine the climate development on earth or test new technologies such as artificial intelligence.
Two conferences are on the program for you every day, at which you and your crew will make contact with the individual ground stations in the USA, Japan, Europe and Russia. In the morning you will receive a briefing from the space organizations about the individual research assignments that you should carry out during your stay. You have already discussed all the important projects before your start into space, but now you have the opportunity to go into the various experiments promptly and in detail. These meetings usually only take 15 to 30 minutes. In the evening, the conversation is mainly up to you and your team, because you report on the course of your studies, present results or, if they fail, give information about the problems.
In space there is no up or down, because due to the weightlessness you glide almost effortlessly through the rooms and pull yourself to certain positions using grab bars. Accordingly, your muscles have to do little work to move you forward. If you stay on the ISS for several months, the muscle strength of your body continuously decreases. Therefore, training units are an integral part of your everyday astronaut life. When you step on the treadmill, you are connected to a suspension on both sides that presses you onto the surface. In this way, jogging is just as demanding as it is on earth. Alternatively, you swing on the exercise bike, fasten some straps to keep yourself on the saddle, and then start pedaling. In addition, you will strengthen your arms, shoulders and back using special cable machines. Despite these sports units, after six months on the space station, it is inevitable that you will go through a rehab program after your return. With this you restore your old fitness level from before the use.
As an astronaut in space, you live and work in one place. Spatially cut off from the earth and only in the company of five other crew members are you almost completely on your own. That's why you have very good all-round skills. Depending on the problem on board, you act as a plumber who repairs the toilet, or you provide basic medical care for a sick colleague. In addition, you restart the computer regularly and fix any malfunctions in the network. You also clean the sanitary facilities and other areas of the space station. Despite everything, support is of course available to you from afar. This gives you the opportunity to talk to a doctor about your state of health on a weekly basis. A psychologist is also available for check-ups. You got to know him personally before your departure in order to build up the necessary basis of trust.

What are the job prospects?

Only 534 people have flown into space since space travel began. Only six astronauts live together on the ISS for about half a year. This profession is accordingly exclusive. If you manage to meet the requirements in the ESA selection process and start your training, you have already left several thousand competitors behind you. Then your chances are good that you will be on the launch pad in a few years. However, the European Space Agency only looks for new recruits every few years.

What qualities should I have?

  • Scientific understanding

How does the astronaut training work?

If you have prevailed against your competitors in the selection process, you start as an astronaut candidate with the one-year basic training. Here you will first get to know the European Space Agency ESA and the other space agencies and find out which programs they are pursuing. You will also acquire sound basic knowledge in various fields of science such as aerospace and electrical engineering. Your instructors will also introduce you to the ISS and the transport systems such as the space shuttle and the Soyuz rocket. Diving training will give you a feeling for what to look out for when deploying outside in space. You must already master the English language, then you will learn Russian on site.
In the next year of your apprenticeship, you will deal with all the skills and competencies that you as a crew member generally need for every flight to the ISS in more detail. Among other things, you will deal with the operation and maintenance of ISS modules, the technical systems, payloads and the various transport spaceships. Basic medical knowledge, navigation skills as well as inboard and outboard operations are also on your timesheet in this context. In this way, you gradually expand your knowledge of space flights through individual elements and processes. You will visit all the institutions in the partner countries that will convey the content to you together.
The last section on your way to starting your career as an astronaut provides that you deal with the specific knowledge and skills that you need for the so-called increment, the period between a change of crew on the station. In this phase, you and your colleagues prepare intensively for the respective mission and practice the tasks of the deployment or replacement team. In these 18 months you will move closer together as a group and consolidate your team spirit.

particularities

  • Qualification through selection process and training over several years
  • Working and living in space
  • Pay corresponds to academic employees in the public service
  • Well-timed working day with fixed processes
  • Rehabilitation measures after each use in space

Did you already know, that ...

  • ... a famous conspiracy theory says that the Americans were never actually on the moon, but instead staged the landing in a film studio? Hollywood legend Stanley Kubrick is said to have directed it. This was the only way he got hold of the particularly high-quality camera lenses from NASA for his subsequent film “Barry Lyndon”, with which he could only shoot a scene by candlelight.
  • ... astronauts pee on one of the rear tires of the bus that takes them to the runway before take off? Yuri Gagarin, the first person in space, did this before his departure and since then it has been a ritual that is supposed to bring good luck for a safe return home.
  • ... astronauts in America and Europe, cosmonauts in Russia and taikonauts in China?

These celebrities are astronauts too

Alexander Gerst

Alexander “Astro-Alex” Gerst, whom hardly anyone knew until a few years ago, is now a popular topic in the media. Because in the second half of 2018 he was the first German commander to lead the fortunes of the International Space Station (ISS). (Image: NASA / James Blair / Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons))

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin went down in history as the first man in space. With this technological masterpiece, the Soviet Union once again shocked the USA and the Western world after the Russians had launched the first satellite called Sputnik into orbit a few years earlier. (Image: SAS Scandinavian Airlines / Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons))

Neil Armstrong

The first man on the moon - In 1969, hundreds of millions of people watched TV as US - American Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. With the words “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” he made himself immortal. (Image: Pixabay)

What speaks for the job

  1. You get the opportunity to see the earth from a completely new perspective
  2. You are doing important research that can advance humanity
  3. Even in old age, nothing stands in the way of space travel, as long as your physical condition meets the requirements

What speaks against the job

  1. Only a few pass the selection process and get the chance to really travel into space
  2. You spend several months in a row in a confined space with other people and are separated from your family and friends

With these 682 courses you can become an astronaut

With these 682 courses you can become an astronaut

Biology teacher training
University of Duisburg-Essen (Essen)
Bachelor of Science (teaching degree)