This story is part of, our series exploring the red planet.
NASA is about to open applications for its next generation of astronauts, the space agency announced Tuesday. With 48 astronauts in its active corps, NASA says it needs more people who are qualified to crew its spacecraft as it looks ahead to the to the moon, and to later missions to Mars. It will be accepting applications between March 2 and March 31.
"We're on the verge of sending the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024," Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator, said in a statement. Bridenstine said a "handful" of people will be hired to join the astronaut corps.
Only those with a US citizenship and a master's degree in a science, technology, engineering and math field will be considered. You'll also need two years of related experience or 1,000 hours of jet aircraft pilot-in-command time.
If you don't have that master's degree, NASA said it will also accept:
- Two years of work toward a STEM Ph.D. program;
- A completed doctorate in medicine or osteopathic medicine; or
- Completion of a test pilot school program by June 2021.
As part of the application, you'll have to do a two-hour online assessment. Candidates are then required to pass NASA's long-duration spaceflight physical examination.
NASA said the "Artemis generation" astronauts could travel aboard Commercial Crew Program spacecraft to live and work in the International Space Station, or they may lift off with the new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, dock at the planned Lunar Gateway and land on the moon later int this decade. Those experiences would pave the way for astronauts to head to Mars, something the space agency expects to happen in the mid-2030s.
NASA will choose its candidates in mid-2021.