Job Profile: Launching a Career as an...

Job Profile: Launching a Career as an Astronaut in Canada

by Sarah Leung
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Enjoy science and wonder what’s out there in space? Exploring the stars as a astronauts can be an out-of-this-world dream turned into a reality.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) seeks out new recruits every decade, and it could be you. From the classroom to the over-the-moon feeling of being at NASA, an astronaut studies and works hard.

Basic Requirements

Over 18,000 people applied during the past four recruitment periods, and 14 applicants were selected. The CSA held these recruitment periods in 1983, 1992, 2009, and 2017: this occurs every 8-10 years.

Anyone Canadian permanent residents and Canadian citizens worldwide can apply. However, the CSA gives preference to Canadian citizens.

The job also requires fluency in either English or French, but both is an asset.

Educational Requirements

Astronauts need:

  • A bachelor’s degree in engineering or science fields (such as biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, or math) or a Ph.D. in medicine or dentistry
  • To be a licensed medical professional in Canada or have least three years of relevant professional experience: a master’s degree is one year of experience and a Ph.D. is three years.

Physical Requirements

Astronauts undergo medical examinations by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), that require certain medical requirements in areas such as:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Blood pressure

Skill Requirements

Astronauts needs skills such as:

  • Communication
  • Integrity
  • Judgement
  • Reasoning
  • Resourcefulness

Astronaut Training

After selection, Astronauts train for two years. The basic training includes:

  • Flight training
  • History and fundamentals of space flight
  • Human behaviour and performance
  • Learning Russian
  • Life, space, and materials and fluid science
  • Media relations
  • Parachute jumps
  • Robotics
  • Survival and physical training, first aid, and CPR
  • International Space Station Systems

Astronauts’ Duties

Although the CSA is Canadian, Canadian astronauts work in Houston, Texas, at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre.

After two years of training, astronauts wait for their space mission. During this time, their duties include:

  • Supporting astronauts in space as a capcom, a “capsule communicator,” that communicates with teams on Earth and in space
  • Choreographing spacewalks, when astronauts do activities outside of the spacecraft
  • Training other astronauts

Astronauts’ mission duties include:

  • Performing installations, repairs, and maintenance on space crafts and equipment
  • Launching and recapturing satellites
  • Piloting or commanding other crewmates, or being another member of the team

How Much Astronauts Make  

Depending on the type of astronaut, the salary level varies from $91,300 – $178,400 annually:

  • Entry level astronauts, who need to train
  • Qualified level astronauts, who finish the NASA Astronaut Training Program and wait for an assignment
  • Senior level astronauts, who have finished a space mission before

How Students Can Prepare

Younger students can prepare for a career in space by:

  • Studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
  • Joining STEM clubs in school
  • Volunteering at space-related organizations, like museums, observatories, or planetariums

Becoming an astronaut is a tough task, but if you stay persistent, study hard, and keep your body in shape, you may join the 14 Canadian astronauts in history to explore this career.

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