NASA is on the lookout for 14 new astronauts, and more people have applied than ever before.
The institution is fresh off a big PR year, which included a successful pluto fly-by and the blockbuster film The Martian, and it seems it’s now inspired a new generation of would-be space adventurers.
But of the 18,000 applicants, just 120 will be invited to Houston for a face-to-face interview, and only 14 eventually make the final cut.
• Sound of silence: a week unplugged
• How to do your own digital detox (and succeed)
It’s the highest ever number of applicants by a long shot – coming in second was 1978’s round of applications, which numbered at just 8000.
“NASA is on a journey to Mars and we’re on the look-out for a new generation of space pioneers,” NASA administrator and retired astronaut Charles Bolden said in a promotional video for the callout.
“Do you think you’ve got what it takes to join NASA’s next astronaut class? Then I want you to apply for NASA’s astronaut program.”
So just what is the criteria for a NASA astronaut?
Applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in science, engineering or mathematics, plus a master’s degree or at least 1000 hours flying time in a jet aircraft.
They also must have vision correctable to 20/20 (that means you can use glasses), plus the ability to physically fit into the space suit and space vehicles.
Finally, those brought in for interviews are subjected to a week of personal interviews, an ‘astronaut physical’ and ‘orientation’.
Oh, and unfortunately for Australians, applicants are also required to be US citizens.
It’s not actually known when (if ever) NASA will send astronauts to Mars, but there’s no doubt this bunch of applicants is hopeful.