With more manned lunar missions just a few years away and the first manned trips to Mars on the horizon, it’s certainly one of the most exciting times to be an astronaut.
Going into space for a job might seem like a pipe dream for most people, but NASA’s application process is open to all and gives those with the right skills and attitude the chance to make that dream a reality.
Samantha Cristoforetti, for example, once said, “I want to be an astronaut.” And today she lives and works on the International Space Station (ISS).
During a press conference with Earth-based reporters on Monday, June 20, Cristoforetti was asked what advice she would give to young people interested in a career as an astronaut.
The European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut said that to get on the right path to a space-based job, “it’s important to challenge yourself as you grow up”. what you’re a little scared of or think you’re not quite up to speed with, because that’s how you grow, that’s how you learn your skills, acquire new skills and new knowledge.”
Cristoforetti said taking on new challenges also helps you “develop your character and understand that you can do difficult things,” something that would definitely prepare would-be astronauts for the challenging NASA and ESA selection process.
When someone asks her how to become an astronaut, the Italian spaceman says, she always tells them to “try your hand at a lot of different things, which can be their major, maybe a STEM subject, but also physical education, maybe at.” Volunteering… and expeditions… anything that can develop teamwork, because that’s certainly what we look for in astronaut candidates.”
Cristoforetti graduated from the Technical University of Munich, Germany, with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, specializing in aerospace propulsion and lightweight structures, and wrote her thesis on solid rocket propellants.
She joined the Italian Air Force in 2001 and four years later participated in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard Air Force Base in the US, where she earned her fighter pilot wings in 2006.
After being selected for astronaut training in 2009, Cristoforetti traveled to space for the first time in 2015 and stayed aboard the ISS for 200 days. Her second mission, which began in April, included a six-month flight aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS.
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