No job = no hope, right? Absolutely wrong! Now that you are unemployed, you have the entire world to choose from depending on the next move you decide to make. In fact, the best chance you have of feeling on top of the world in a literal sense is to become an Astronaut.
The word Astronaut is derived from the Greek words ‘Astron’ = Star and ‘Nautes’ = Sailor.
If you do end up getting a call from NASA therefore, don’t get confused into thinking you’re being invited to audition for a post-Britpop alternative British rock band from Wigan.
Should you do decide to skip the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God, here’s what you’ll need to do to make it all possible:
1. Get some qualifications
Bear in mind that going into space isn’t just about floating about in a spacesuit all day and night (or rather, neither and/or both if you want to be pedantic). Both NASA and the European Space Agency require people that have at least a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field like Engineering, Science, or Maths. If you plan on being a pilot Astronaut that is responsible for flying the spacecraft, you’ll also need at least 1000 hours flight time in a jet aircraft and a military background of some kind. On that basis, 6 years experience working in a call centre in Stoke-on-Trent will not be sufficient.
2. Be the correct nationality
You’ll need to be a citizen of the country’s space agency to whom you are applying. People in the UK have a reasonable chance of succeeding because Great Britain is one of the 20 member states of the European Space Agency. (Disclaimer: This article was written before the UK’s Brexit from the EU and as a result, British Astronauts may have to depend on a bilateral trade partnership with Uzbekistan at the time of reading).
3. Be the right age
There are no predefined restrictions to becoming an Astronaut with NASA, however successful previous candidates have always been in the 26-46 age bracket with an average age of 34 years. The European Space Agency has historically always hired younger Astronauts who have all been in the 27-37 age bracket – presumably there is no online gaming or weed smoking allowed aboard a NASA spacecraft?
4. Be in tip-top physical shape
Great Britain’s Tim Peake said that during his physical examination when applying to go up to the International Space Station, nearly half of the otherwise qualified candidates were culled on the grounds of cardio-vascular endurance and eyesight. Astronauts also have to be the right height which is between 1.53m and 1.9m tall and must be in excellent mental health – paranoid dwarves with anger management issues therefore need not apply.
5. Be extremely patient
During your selection process to become an Astronaut, you’ll have to endure psychological profiling, memory tests, medical examinations and more. You’ll be probed, prodded and scientific instruments will be inserted into bodily orifices that you never knew existed. You’ll have to endure marathon interview sessions and additional training in areas like scuba diving, Russian language courses (‘cos E.T. don’t talk jive goddammit), exposure to a range of atmospheric pressures and of course, you’ll have to prove your mettle on the infamous, ‘Vomit Comet.’ Perhaps worse than all of the above is the fact that you’ll have to provide assistance for other missions until you finally get your call for a trip to the heavens – a wait that can sometimes take years. Bearing all this in mind, are you sure you still want to be a silver suited star hopper?
6. Be a very lucky person indeed
Last, but by no means least, you’ll also need to be a bit lucky to succeed. The hiring windows of Space Agencies only really come around now and again so you need to be in the right place at the right time. NASA tend to hire new Astronauts every few years but the ESA has only taken rookies on in 1978, 1992, and in the late noughties.
Prepare yourself for take-off and good luck!