NASA hiring a new round of astronauts for the first time in 4 years

LaserLens/iStock(NEW YORK) — Job applications to be a NASA astronaut are officially open again — the first time in four years.

The new job posting from NASA on Monday comes as the agency is gearing up to send the first woman to the moon with its Artemis program.

“Exploring the moon during this decade will help prepare humanity for its next giant leap — sending astronauts to Mars,” the agency said in a statement announcing the search for potential employees.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency is seeking “diverse” astronauts from “every walk of life.”

“America is closer than any other time in history since the Apollo program to returning astronauts to the moon. We will send the first woman and next man to the lunar South Pole by 2024, and we need more astronauts to follow suit on the moon, and then Mars,” Bridenstine said.

“We’re looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life to join us in this new era of human exploration that begins with the Artemis program to the Moon,” he added. “If you have always dreamed of being an astronaut, apply now.”

During its last round of hiring in 2015, NASA said it received 18,300 applicants. From that pool, NASA picked 11 new astronauts who recently completed more than two years of training.

The application is open to the public, though you must be a U.S. citizen to apply. A master’s degree in a STEM field is also required, or equivalent experience as narrowly-defined by NASA. Finally, the agency is also looking for at least two years of “related, progressively responsible professional experience.”

Applicants must also take an online test. Potential astronauts have until March 31 to apply, and the listed salary range was $104,898 to $161,141 per year, according to the government website.

“Those who apply will likely be competing against thousands who have dreamed of and worked toward going to space for as long as they can remember,” Steve Koerner, NASA’s director of flight operation and chair of the Astronaut Selection Board at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a statement.

“But somewhere among those applicants are our next astronauts, and we look forward to meeting you,” he added.

For those who don’t get the job offer from NASA but still wish to explore space, private space tourism company Virgin Galactic announced last week it is preparing to sell another batch of tickets to space again, albeit for a hefty price tag.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX also announced in February that it has four seats up for grabs to send private citizens into orbit for an undisclosed price.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.