Entries in astronaut (3)


Who Wants to Be an Astronaut? NASA to Hire Civilian Candidates

Chris Cohen/NASA(HOUSTON) -- NASA called for all willing candidates to apply for a spot in the next astronaut class by midnight Friday. It’s a leap of faith because there is no great space race anymore and Newt Gingrich is the only candidate who even mentions a future in space for the U.S.

Nevertheless, NASA said that as of late Friday, it had received 5,700 applications, more than ever before. Only about a dozen new astronauts will be chosen.

NASA is building a capsule called Orion, and the rocket to launch it remains to be determined. It could be a Delta or a Falcon, or a new NASA rocket on steroids called the SLS (Space Launch System).

The astronauts are all dressed up with no place to go because until the president and Congress agree on a new mission for them, the only game in town is the International Space Station, which veterans privately say ranks as one of the most boring missions on the books. The ISS has a crew of six, all launched, for now, in Russian Soyuz capsules. Between them, the crew members only do 35 hours of research a week; the rest of the time is spent maintaining their orbiting colony.

NASA’s most ambitious mission, at the moment, is the robotic Mars Curiosity Rover -- no astronauts needed -- which is humming along to Mars to land in August.

What would an astronaut even have to look forward to besides fixing the toilet on the space station? They have no hot showers, no pizza, no ice cream. A stiff drink? Forget about it. But the view is great, and they have Internet now on the space station. The benefits are fabulous (lifetime health care -- the perks of being a human guinea pig for NASA, which wants to know about vision loss, muscle mass loss, decreased bone density and radiation exposure).

Salaries for civilian astronaut candidates are based on the federal government’s general schedule pay scale for grades GS-12 through GS-13. Each person’s grade is determined according to his or her academic achievements and experience. Currently, a GS-12 starts at $65,140 per year and a GS-13 can earn up to $100,701 per year.

Military astronaut candidates are assigned to the Johnson Space Center and remain on active duty status for pay, benefits, leave and other similar matters.

NASA currently has 57 active astronauts. It says it needs more because a person can only stay in space six months at a time. After that, you exceed the allowable limits for radiation exposure, and it takes months to recover from a tour of duty on the space station. Not every astronaut is willing to commit to the three years it takes to train for a mission to the ISS. So they are having a tough time staffing the space station.

Here’s where to apply: … If you think you have the right stuff.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mark Kelly Resumes Training for Endeavour's Final Mission

Photo Courtesy - NASA [dot] gov(HOUSTON) -- Astronaut Mark Kelly resumed training Monday in preparation to command space shuttle Endeavour when it takes off for its final mission in April.

Kelly decided he would leave the side of his wife, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, last Friday after tending to her throughout every step of her recovery.  Giffords has been hospitalized since Jan. 8, when she was shot in the head during a shooting rampage in front of a Tucson grocery store.

"I am looking forward to rejoining my STS-134 crew members and finishing our training for the mission," Kelly said.  "We have been preparing for more than 18 months, and we will be ready to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station and complete the other objectives of the flight.  I appreciate the confidence that my NASA management has in me and the rest of my space shuttle crew."

The space shuttle will take off for a 14-day mission to the International Space Station on April 19, in what could be Kelly's last flight in space.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sen.Nelson: ‘Reasonable to Expect’ Kelly Will be on Shuttle Mission

Photo Courtesy - bill nelson[dot]senate[dot]gov(WASHINGTON) -- Astronaut Mark Kelly -- the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- plans to announce Friday whether he’ll command the final space shuttle mission in April. A friend who talked to him Thursday told ABC News that it’s “reasonable to expect” that Kelly will be on board.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a former astronaut, said he spoke with Kelly Thursday morning while he was in Washington to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast. Based on the progress Giffords has made in her recovery from a shooting attack last month, Nelson said he thinks Kelly will choose to be part of the shuttle Endeavor crew.

“He's going to make his announcement tomorrow. I don't know what that's going to be. It is a tough decision for him but I think it's reasonable to expect that he will go on to command this mission in April, because I think Gabby is significantly improving every day,” Nelson, D-Fla., said on ABC’s Top Line Thursday.

Nelson pointed out that with Giffords recovering in Houston, he could be near her side while he trains for the shuttle mission -- training that’s scheduled to begin next week.

“The question is, is she improving enough so that he does not need to be by her side every day in order for her to continue the improvement? While he's training, she is right there in Houston. He'll still be able to see her. Obviously he would not see her while he goes into quarantine or when he is actually on the mission.”

“But that's only a choice for him and for the leaders of NASA to make. I don't know what that decision is, but that would be my advice from this perspective: if we hear that in fact she is improving as she is, then I think that would be a reasonable choice on his part.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio