A career at NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is much more than just the notion of being an astronaut. NASA not only works with astronauts but also employs scientists, engineers, IT specialists, human resources specialists, accountants, writers, technicians and many, many other kinds of people. Although, there might not be anything as magical as the job of an astronaut but there is much to the job than what catches the eye.
However, if you already have your eyes set on being an astronaut with NASA, you must to begin with get Permanent Residency in USA. You also then need to get Citizenship (become a Naturalized citizen). Only then will you be able to pursue your career with NASA. Once that is taken care of, remember, to be an astronaut you need to specialize in Aeronautical / Aerospace engineering at an advanced level.
You can also join the Indian Space Program and work in joint projects and in an exchange capacity. The closest NASA office in Asia is in US Embassy in Tokyo.
The men and women who make up America’s Astronaut Corps must possess a unique blend of personality traits. A glance at the credentials of the less than one per cent who do make it through NASA‘s week long screening process reveals that they comprise top scholars, decorated pilots, and accomplished scientists. Astronauts spend years training before they can lift off into space. They learn to operate shuttles, perform experiments in zero gravity (and eat bugs if they must survive in the wilderness should a practice flight go out of control).
Early missions used to be short and dangerous. Now astronauts are trained for the long haul. So, you must be capable of negotiating long periods of isolation, extended confinement, boredom and uncertainty drawing on inner resources to sustain yourself.
Basic Educational Requirements
Successful completion of a standard professional curriculum in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor’s degree with major study in an appropriate field of engineering (not engineering technology), physical science, life science or mathematics is required. The degree must include or be supplemented by course work appropriate to the AST specialty for which application is made; refer to the section, “Appropriate Fields of Study,” under each AST specialty. (In some cases a graduate degree in an appropriate field or unconditional acceptance as a candidate for an advanced degree in an appropriate field by an accredited institution may be submitted. For applicants qualifying on the basis of graduate education and/or experience, any of the undergraduate majors shown below is acceptable if the required graduate study and/or professional experience is closely related to this type of work and provides the knowledge, skills and abilities required in the position being filled.)
You can be qualified in one of the below listed fields of study or other appropriate physical science or engineering field.
- Aeronautical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
- Materials Engineering
- Astronautical Engineering
- Materials Science
- Mathematics, Applied or Pure
- Mechanics, Applied or Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Biomedical Engineering
- Metallurgical Engineering
- Ceramic Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering Physics
- Civil Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Optical Engineering
- Computer Science
- Earth and Planetary Science
- Physics, Applied or Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Space Science
- Electronics Engineering
- Structural Engineering
- Welding Engineering
While studying for the courses, the curriculum must include 30 semester hours of course work in a combination of mathematics, statistics and computer science that provide in-depth knowledge of the
- Theoretical foundations and practical applications of computer science; and,
- Essential mathematical and statistical techniques.
Of the 30 semester hours, 15 must be in any combination of statistics and mathematics, which includes differential and integral calculus.
For non U.S. citizens
You ought to know that, interestingly, over one third of NASA employees are of Indian origin.
Although the basic requirement is for one to be a U.S. citizen, it is only under very special circumstances will the condition be ignored. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may wish to consider opportunities with some of the other International Space Partners of NASA. Some of them have been listed as bellows:
- Agencia Espacial Brasileira (AEB)
- Italian Space Agency
- Brazilian Space Agency
- Canadian Space Agency
- Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales
- German Aerospace Center (DLR)
- European Space Agency
- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
- Russian Federal Space Agency