NASA Turns To Online Recruitment For New Astronauts

Applying to become an astronaut is now just a few clicks away, after US space agency, NASA, launched an online recruitment drive to find 55 new space travellers.

While the actual application process may have been made much easier - with even a flashy YouTube video created to provide the details of the job - the requirements of successful candidates are still as rigorous and demanding as ever. 

Despite ending the shuttle programme earlier this year, taking out of commission its own means of sending people into space, NASA will still be sending a couple of astronauts every year to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spaceship, for six-month stays. 

Astronauts will also be needed for an American-built commercial rocket, destined for the space station, and eventually - likely to be in more than a decade's time - NASA hopes to fly astronauts in a government-owned Orion capsule to an asteroid or even Mars.

Speaking in the recruitment video, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tells potential candidates, "We need you to help plan for this future of exploration. Join NASA. Get your application in now for the 2013 astronaut candidate class. Your spaceflight experience begins right now." 

Geoff Newman, chief executive of online recruitment agency have surprisingly recruited for similar roles and feels this approach is going to create a deluge of inappropriate applications.

“The greatest benefit of the Internet is its accessibility and reach, but perversely this is going to be its downfall in this instance with lots of wannabe astronauts making irrelevant applications. In similar circumstances we have always adopted a more focused approach that will ultimately deliver the same quality candidates without so much paperwork.”

Candidates must have at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or maths. It is only open to US citizens, and the successful candidates must then learn Russian. Physically, the astronauts must be between 5 feet 2 inches and 6 feet 3 inches tall and have vision that can be corrected to 20/20. Medical doctors and teachers are looked upon favourably. 

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