Want to be a NASA astronaut? Applications are open

Time flies for The Flies

NASA has wheeled out its latest set of astronaut graduates, dubbed "The Flies," and announced that it is accepting applications for the next batch of astro-wannabes.

astronaut graduation

Astronaut graduates Pic: NASA

Twelve candidates were selected, including two from the United Arab Emirates. The group was chosen from a pool of 12,000 applicants in 2021 and has spent more than two years in training. There is a good chance that at least some from this group will be assigned missions to the Moon and the International Space Station (ISS).

"Congratulations to NASA and the astronaut graduates," said U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kiran Ahuja. "By partnering with OPM, NASA employed an automated and streamlined hiring process to screen applicants for these prestigious roles."

The hiring process has moved on from the days of Deke Slayton calling up an applicant and asking them if they wanted the job. Today, NASA has clear guidelines for applicants. The are no set age restrictions, though the average age for candidates selected in the past has hovered around 34. You need to have a degree in the fields of Engineering, Biological Science, Physical Science, Computer Science, or Mathematics. And, of course, you usually have to be a US citizen.

NASA will also take astronauts from countries with which it has an international agreement. In this case, the UAE.

Former ESA astronaut Tim Peake congratulated the latest set of astronauts and said: "They've been nicknamed 'The Flies.' Each new class gets named by the one ahead of them. There must be a good story behind this one. 😄"

The previous group was called "The Turtles," and the one before was named "The 8 Balls" – a reference to the fact that there were only eight in that intake. Two of "The 8 Balls," Christina Koch and Victor Glover, are currently assigned to the Artemis II mission to the Moon.

NASA's regular intake of astronauts goes back to the heady days of Mercury, with the first group selected in 1959 as the Mercury 7. There was a gap of more than a decade in selection following the end of the Apollo program before recruitment got going again with a group of 35 dubbed TFNG – Thirty-Five New Guys – although one of the group, Mike Mullane, wrote in his book Riding Rockets that TFNG was a play on the obscene military acronym FNG*.

* The NG stood for New Guy. The F... you can work out for yourself. ®

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