|image credit: SpaceX|
Against the backdrop of the SpaceX achievement, Southern California Public Radio interviewed me for a story titled "Dream jobs: What's it like to be an astronaut?" The 7-minute comprehensive story also includes statements from NASA, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic representatives. Listen here or read the transcript:
For an even more in depth, personal take on aspiring to be an astronaut during this transitional period in spaceflight, check out my recent 4-part Moonandback video interview. Other recent media articles and appearances, including two new guest spots on The Space Show, are listed on my media page.
So, now that we know NASA astronauts will have options for getting to space and aren't going extinct anytime soon, what about the current selection cycle? Like the other 6,372 applicants to NASA's current astronaut selection opportunity, I received a postcard in the mail from NASA in May confirming receipt of my application. This is the second highest number or applicants the space agency has ever received, which is quite remarkable considering NASA no longer has an operational spaceship of its own. Due to the high volume of applications, the Astronaut Selection Office has amended its timeline to allow for more time determining the Highly Qualified applicants. The schedule seems to have slipped by about two months from their original timeline.
While I was in Houston a few weeks ago, I met with Astronaut Selection Manager Duane Ross at the Johnson Space Center. I thanked him personally for the December webinar on astronaut selection, and we discussed general aspects of the current selection cycle. Mr. Ross confirmed that they had narrowed down the pool to about 4200 Qualified applicants. That means more than 2000, or about 34%, of the applicants did not meet the minimum qualifications. I asked if that was a high number, and he said it is the highest percentage of unqualified applicants he can recall in a selection. We guessed that perhaps the ease of the USAJOBS application process contributed to the higher number of unqualified applicants. Maybe the inspirational things companies like SpaceX are doing helped boost the numbers too.