The Astronaut Finalist Interview
NASA is in the process of interviewing the 40 finalists for this year's astronaut selection. The following description of the interview week comes courtesy of one of the finalists interviewed in group 3 during the last week of February. It gives us a glimpse into the finalist interview experience.
I just returned from a second interview down at NASA, and I wanted to do my best to share with you the experiences I had. There are confidentiality agreements in place to maintain the integrity of the process with impartial and unbiased looks at all of the candidates. As such, there is a limited amount of information that I can pass along. Mrs. Gomez and Mr. Ross have checked the content to ensure that I haven't divulged any proprietary information.
Most people arrive Saturday or Sunday, although I would recommend getting there as early as possible, because the fun starts relatively early on Sunday and you will have a very small window to eat if you don't get in by about 1200 (you start fasting at 1800).
From there you go to the orientation, where you are given your packet with a schedule of events (just like the one on the old ashos.org website), maps, rules for the week, medical tests overview, diet constraints for the tests, overview of the panel interview, etc...
Monday starts the fun with blood draws, medical tests and psychological interviews. The psychological interviews are pretty long, and all you can really do is be yourself. If you have an imaginary friend, tell him to keep quiet :)
Medical tests, the interview, and a couple of evaluations are sprinkled throughout the next few days in what is a very busy schedule. It's amazing to me how the staff there kept us (and our multitude of tests) straight. The transportation alone is an incredible juggling act. However, you still have plenty of time to hang out with your other interviewees. Just like last time, I was humbled by them and their experiences - what an incredible group of people.
Tuesday night is a team exercise (which is a lot of fun), and Wednesday night is another social with astronauts and board members, just like during the first round of interviews. Of course, shortly after that social, everyone is off to the ice cream parlor to stuff their bellies until midnight, at which time you have go cold turkey on solid food until Friday morning after your date with Mr. Colonoscopy.
Our group treated the colon prep as a bonding experience, and as silly as it sounds, it was probably one of the most memorable parts of the whole process. Doing laxative shots out of NASA shot glasses, while we all sat around watching The Right Stuff and making fun of each other's frantic waddling to the bathrooms - it definitely made the process a lot more fun than solitary toilet worship. Someday, when a couple of these people are walking on the moon, I'll have a great story to tell the grandkids...
Friday starts with the colonoscopy and any other tests that were missed or added during the week, followed in the afternoon with a couple of tours, including a trip to the NBL, and Ellington Field to check out the NASA T-38s and other aircraft.
They are hoping to inform everyone (in the final 40) of their selection (or not) by May(ish).
Well, hope that helps. Good luck to everyone in this and future boards.