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In the 1950s, NASA leadership was in the midst of a debate.

They were trying to decide what name was best to call the crew of their spacecraft.

The word astronaut comes from the Greek words Astron and nautes which mean sailor among

the stars.

Whereas, cosmonaut with the word cosmos suggests exploration not of the stars, but of space.

As it made more sense, the Soviet Union called Yuri Gagarin, the man who won them the Space

Race, a cosmonaut.

However, NASA, to this day, prefers astronaut.

Whatever the title, the challenges they face are the same.

Could you handle them?

Lets find out in this episode of The Infographics Show, Do You Have What it Takes to Become

an Astronaut?

Astronauts are trained around the world in many different locations.

These include the United States, Europe, Russia, and Asia.

However, unlike other careers, they do not always accept new recruits.

In the United States, NASA makes announcements that applicants are wanted on an as needed


The European Space Agency hasnt been open to astronaut selection since 1992 and, even

then, applications were accepted for just months.

On the rare occasion that a position opens up, the competition is quite intense.

Over the years, NASA has had an upwards trend in interest.

It set an all-time record in 2016 with over 18,000 people submitting applications.

Only 120 people are invited to an interview and, of these, just half are welcomed back.

For those in Europe, the chances of becoming selected for training are also very slim.

During the last recruitment in 2009, only six were picked out of 8,413.

When new astronauts are needed, candidates must have vast knowledge and experience to

meet, and preferably exceed, training program admittance guidelines.

No matter where they are, those who apply must be exceptionally strong in several key


These typically include a high-level education, flying experience, and proof of physical and

mental ability.

As an example, to qualify to train with NASA, candidates must first complete an undergraduate

program and earn their bachelors degree.

And not just any major will be accepted.

While there are no schools or university tracks specific to the field, there are other ways

to learn applicable skills.

You will need to focus your studies in engineering, mathematics, or the physical, biological,

or computer sciences.

In addition to this, candidates must also have three years or more of related experience

or 1,000 hours of time commanding a jet aircraft.

The third and last NASA requirement is passing a physical examination, which has many different


Among other things, there are blood pressure limitations as well as specifications for

just how tall or short you can be.

Thats right, if youre not the right size, you may be disqualified as you wont

fit inside of a spacesuit.

In addition to this, for obvious reasons, you will need to be able to see well with

20/20 vision in each eye, either naturally, with surgery, or with lenses.

Similar to NASA, the European Space Agency requires a high standard of education in a

technical or scientific discipline.

While not essential, aircraft experience is also highly recommended.

Physical condition is taken into consideration, and they list additional mental abilities

that prospective astronauts must have to succeed.

These include the ability to cope with high-stress situations, get along with others, and, in

general, be adaptable.

Why are these necessary?

Well, spaceflights may last for months.

Those in the spacecraft will be crammed all together with the same people each and every


Getting along will be imperative to successfully tackle unforeseen situations as they come.

It will also be necessary to work well as a team and to complete a given mission.

In addition to all this, the Russian research and test cosmonaut training center claims

that the concepts of motivation and trainability are also key for new recruits.

With the amount of training they will be required to complete, candidates must be willing to

stick it through and work hard to master new things.

So, say you have the education, experience, and physical and mental ability to get accepted

to an astronaut training program.

This is when the challenge really begins.

Training will be neither quick or easy and requires years of dedication.

During this time trainees will learn what to expect before, during, and after they launch

into space.

Just the act of taking off and landing can be quite brutal and incapacitate people for


In fact, some 60% to 80% of those who travel to space experience space motion sickness

for the first 2 or 3 days after leaving and may experience it again for another 2 or 3

days once they return.

This may either be caused by shifts in fluid surrounding the brain or because of the effects

of gravity on the inner ear.

Whatever the cause, it makes those who have it feel overly hot, sick to their stomach,

and exhausted.

Those who do throw up often have little warning but it typically doesnt last very long.

Almost a whole crew getting motion sickness is so common that on most space missions activities

are limited for the first few days.

The use of proper training as well as medications have been somewhat successful at preventing

this level of sickness.

However, medications must be used with caution as they can also cause drowsiness or impair


For those on a spaceship this could be a lethal combination.

Another effect of spending time in space is experiencing irregularities in the flow of


Sometimes, after a mission is over, blood pressure may start to drop as a person tries

to stand.

This will make them feel dizzy and they may even pass out.

This is common for a few days and should resolve by itself.

It is also worth noting that prolonged time in space can cause other problems as well.

In the space environment, the hearts shape becomes rounder and some of its muscle mass

is lost.

Scientists hope to discover an exercise routine that could help keep hearts strong to counteract


Of course, in addition to what happens at takeoff and landing, astronauts must also

know what to do as they orbit in space.

For this purpose, they will be taught the concepts behind orbits and astronomy.

Astronauts are also given access to a realistic spacecraft model so they can learn how its

different components function.

They will learn things such as how the rocket engine propels the craft and how insulation

regulates equipment temperature.

And of course, very critically, about how the systems work that provide them with the

basic necessities such as food, water, and air.

More than knowing how all of these work, an astronaut must also be able to respond effectively

to their failure.

Further, he or she must know how to protect them during a disaster as well.

Of course, astronauts must also prepare for their part of the spaceflights mission.

This often requires such things as learning how to navigate through space successfully

while wearing a spacesuit.

To simulate this here on earth, astronauts put on their equipment and submerge themselves

in water.

They then walk around and perform various tasks while entirely underwater.

Other useful skills astronauts should know for a mission include learning how to pilot

the ship and accurately determine its position.

To do this, they must also know how to identify potentially confusing optical illusions.

In addition to understanding the internal workings of a spaceship and how to perform

their jobs, astronauts must also prepare themselves for the psychological challenges of the space


As many who have been to space have said, dealing with the combination of constant danger,

loneliness, and limitations was the most challenging thing they ever did.

In space, danger never ends and may always be near.

Experts have described that by living in a situation surrounded by danger, it makes one

hyper-aware of it.

There is also something comforting about feeling attached to the ground that is absent when

drifting in space.

Over time the sensation of floating, while exciting at first, may become much less fun.

If nothing else, it can be frustrating and make some of the simplest tasks a challenge.

An astronauts sense of balance may be thrown off by the distortion of time as well.

Instead of happening once every day, in space, sunset and sunrise switch back and forth every

45 minutes.

On long shifts over lengthy missions, one may lose complete sense of how much time has

passed or what time it even is.

However, the most profound sense of loss many astronauts have felt is the missing connection

to their normal life.

This was expressed by astronauts even after weekly interactions with their families and

friends which not every astronaut has.

Another thing that some have considered one of the very worst feeling was when they were

sitting around with nothing to do and without any type of distraction.

Then to this sense of uselessness or boredom you must add a stifling lack of freedom.

The good news is that astronauts are well prepared for these types of situations.

They know what to expect through practice and have developed different coping mechanisms.

To show they can handle being by themselves astronauts have been kept in isolation chambers

for weeks.

They have also been locked up with others for over a month to learn about compromise

and limited freedoms.

We have all seen the videos of astronauts laughing and doing flips as they float around

freely on their ship.

But now weve learned that the magical feeling of weightlessness can become much less fun.

Many people want to become an astronaut, and thousands upon thousands go so far as to apply.

However, the job is not an easy one and requires a lot of grit and sacrifice.

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Did you want to become an astronaut, and have you changed your mind?

Let us know in the comments!

Also, be sure to check out our other video called Most Extreme Planets In The Galaxy

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