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Have the right stuff? You could be NASA's next astronaut

Starting in November, the space agency will begin accepting applications for its next class of astronaut candidates. The question is, what rockets will those who make the cut be riding on their journeys into space?

You could be going into orbit and in one of the official snazzy NASA spacesuits, no less. That's if you are one of the elite group that the space agency chooses as its next cadre of future astronauts, of course.

NASA said today that beginning in early November, it will be accepting applications (PDF file) for its next class of astronaut candidates. These are the people who "will support long-duration missions to the International Space Station (ISS) and future deep space exploration activities," the agency said in the release announcing the upcoming application period.

NASA said on Monday it will soon be opening up applications for its next class of astronaut candidates. NASA

If you have a bachelor's degree in math, science, or engineering and at least three years of "relevant professional experience," you may be qualified for consideration. A lot of time flying "high-performance jet-aircraft" may help your application. NASA says it will most likely announce the names of those chosen sometime in 2013 and that initial training will probably commence that August.

The question those chosen to take part in the program will obviously be asking is what kind of spacecraft will they be flying? With the end of the Space Shuttle program and the cancellation of Constellation--which was supposed to be NASA's next-gen manned space program--it's not at all clear how America's astronauts will be getting into space.

There's SpaceX's private spacecraft, and the Russian Soyuz rockets that already take private citizens to the ISS. But NASA suggested in the release that those chosen to take part in its candidate program will be flying on "transportation systems now in development."

Either way, there will no doubt be a lot of people interested in applying. It would seem, however, that unless you've already spent time with an actual jet joystick in your hands, your chances of making the cut are pretty small. And that's assuming you already meet the degree requirement. But if this you, give it a shot. You might just have the right stuff.