When I was a boy, aside from becoming a Major League Baseball player, it was probably the single most coveted job in the world. Imagine becoming an astronaut, flying in a rocket to the moon, then exploring its surface and planting an American flag deep into the moon dust.

It seems like a storybook, but NASA is currently seeking the best of the best to become astronauts. The goal is to send the first woman and the next man to the moon. The mission is to explore the moon's South Pole. NASA also wants to start laying the groundwork for missions to Mars to begin by the mid-2030s.

The standards, as you might expect, as pretty high; they don't just send anyone up to the moon. The application process is thorough. The basic requirements to apply include United States citizenship and a master’s degree in a STEM field, including engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics from an accredited institution. The requirement for the master’s degree can also be met by:

  • Two years (36 semester hours or 54 quarter hours) of work toward a Ph.D. program in a related science, technology, engineering or math field;
  • A completed doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathic medicine degree;
  • Completion (or current enrollment that will result in completion by June 2021) of a nationally or internationally recognized test pilot school program. However, if test pilot school is your only advanced degree, you must also have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a STEM field.

Candidates also must have at least two years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Astronaut candidates must pass the NASA long-duration spaceflight physical.

As part of the application process, applicants will, for the first time, be required to take an online assessment that will require up to two hours to complete.

NASA says the last time they recruited astronauts in 2015, they received over 18,000 applications. Eleven people were ultimately selected.

Applications are due no later than the end of this month. NASA expects to make final selections by the middle of next year.

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