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Return to book index Chapter 9 : Right Triangles and Trigonometry


Astronauts Astronauts are specifically trained to make flights in space. Today's astronauts fly aboard the space shuttle. Many astronauts have training as pilots that qualifies them to fly the space shuttle. Others may have a specific scientific background that enables them to conduct experiments in space.

The space program began in 1959 with only 7 astronauts, all of whom had training in the armed forces. Today, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) accepts thousands of applications from around the world from people wishing to become astronauts. Approximately 100 candidates are chosen every two years to participate in an intensive astronaut training school.

Education and Training

In the U.S., astronauts may need the following education and training:

  • a bachelor's degree and three years of related professional experience
  • post-graduate training in a technical field, math, or science
  • a degree from one of the 51 colleges and universities funded by NASA through its Space Grant Consortia which ensure that potential candidates have received training that conforms with NASA guidelines
  • at least 1,000 hours in command of a T-38 jet aircraft

On the Job

Astronauts work long hours, especially during the three months prior to a launch and the two months after a launch. Extensive training, particularly related to emergency procedures, is required.

Math on the Job

All astronauts have some form of mathematics or scientific background. This type of background is essential for dealing with the normal operations of a space shuttle, troubleshooting unexpected problems, and carrying out scientific experiments.

Related Careers

  • pilot
  • geologist
  • astronomer

You can get more information about a career as an astronaut from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) .