Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Basic requirements met for 2013 NASA Astronaut Selection!

Round 2 <bing!>

This will be my second attempt applying to the Astronaut Corps. In 2008 I was privileged to apply to both the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as I am a dual citizen. I'm was in the heat of my PhD during the application process and if I was selected in 2009 my PhD would have taken a significant blow. I thought that it would be possible to finish in my "spare time" if I was selected, but in retrospect I don't think it would have been that simple and I'm guessing that my final 1.5 years of my degree would have taken 10 years.

This application year is much more exciting because my PhD is complete and I've been working on research at MIT in the Man-Vehicle Laboratory (MVL). Some projects relate to spacesuits (commercial and injury prevention) while others relate to Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs), which contain accelerometer, magnetometers and gyroscopes. I've been particularly busy with the IMU's preparing new data for an abstract for the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference, which will have to be discussed in another post some time soon. Back to the astronaut selection topic!

The most satisfying start to the application process that a candidate can make is looking at the basic requirements and checking them ALL off! Here's the skinny (details can be found on USAJOBS):

Bachelor's degree in an applicable field (engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics) Bachelor's degree in an applicable field (engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics)
BScH Mechanical Engineering, Queen's University
MSS Masters of Space Studies, International Space University
MS Aerospace Engineering, Penn State University
PhD Aerospace Engineering Sciences, Bioastronautics, University of Colorado at Boulder
3 years professional experience (master's degree = 1 year of experience, doctoral degree = 3 years of experience) + 2 Masters and PhD (not including other contracts before PhD topic with NASA GSRP GRC) = 5 years
+ X PRIZE Foundation = 14 months total (4 months for masters so assume ~10 months experience outside)
+ FMARS = 4 months + work before/after at CU = 8 months
+ MIT MVL = since Nov. 2010 + time elapsed (assume end of summer 2012) = 22 months
= TOTAL = > 3 years :-)
Vision correctable to 20/20 I have glasses/contacts that are a basic prescription (no toric lenses or anything special)
Resting blood pressure no more than 140/90 I'm not going to disclose that information, but I'm golden. On a side note, my resting heart rate is considered "athletic".
Height 62-75 inches (due to Soyuz and EVA anthropometric requirements) 68 inches, boo-yah!
U.S. citizenship Yes sir!

So this dual citizen is ready to apply! Because I will be applying for a few faculty positions in early December, I will begin the Astronaut application afterwards, which is due 27 January 2012. It is essentially the same process as the last call, but I have to re-reduce my 20 page CV down to 6 (I've cut it to 6 a few times for NASA jobs applications, but I need to make sure key information is not neglected on training, experience, and other highlights). In the last round, my references were not checked, meaning that my PhD active status may have eliminated me early (not sure). I'm hoping to make it to the interview level at the very least this selection. In the CSA selection, I was video interviewed making it to the Top 2% out of 5352 candidates! Other information about NASA Astronauts can be found on their website. Also, Brian Shiro usually has excellent updates from a candidate's perspective on his blog: http://astronautforhire.com/. Here's the really cool 2013 Astronaut call video that I got chills watching, especially imagining conducting all those Extravehicular Activities (EVAs), a.k.a. space walks, asteroid bouncing, Moonwalking, and Marstrutting! Of course they will need better short names for asteroids and Mars missions.



  1. Congratulations, Ryan!
    from Cam the pressure suit guy, Portland OR :)

  2. It's Astronaut CORPS not "Corp."

  3. Thanks Astrodude for catching that typo! In the digital age it is important to revise and correct everything.