Fancy being an astronaut but didn't go to uni? Your time may have finally come

Japanese space agency wants 'nauts with good eyesight and work experience – no degree required


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched an astronaut recruitment drive last week with reduced academic requirements as it seeks to diversify and refresh the nation's corps of space travelers.

JAXA last recruited astronauts in 2008. Back then, applicants required a four-year university degree in science or engineering — 963 people signed up hoping to make it to space.

The new batch of 'nauts will need only a high school diploma, plus proficiency in English and general science knowledge.

JAXA is also keen on diversity. In 2008 just 13 per cent of applicants were women, and none were chosen. This time JAXA wants 30 per cent of applicants to be women, in hopes they might add to the two Japanese women who have been to space: Chiaki Mukai and Naoko Yamazaki.

Other job qualifications include Japanese nationality, three years' work experience or some combination of graduate school and work experience, height between 149.5cm and 190.5cm, good vision and hearing, and the ability to swim 75 metres.

JAXA said astronaut training will include aircraft manoeuvring, weightlessness experience in a jet, survival training and more.

Post-training gigs for the astronauts could include life on the International Space Station or inclusion in the US Artemis 2025 Moon mission as well as the US-led Gateway project to build a space station orbiting the Moon.

The average age of JAXA's current crop of astronauts is 52, and they'll be even older by the time the new batch is ready to fly. The Agency has therefore resolved to recruit new 'nauts every five years to keep its roster fresh.

Interested parties can submit their application here from December 20, 2021 to March 4, 2022. The lucky new recruits will be notified in April 2022 and – if they have the right stuff – certified in March 2025.

JAXA's not the only space agency in hiring mode: the European Space Agency invited applicants earlier this year, and is even considering astronauts with a physical disability. The Agency received over 23,000 applications. ®

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