NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helped out of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft just minutes after she, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, landed in a remote area southeast of Zhezkazgan in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, February 6, 2020.
(Photo : Reuters/NASA/Bill Ingalls) NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helped out of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft just minutes after she, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, landed in a remote area southeast of Zhezkazgan in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, February 6, 2020.

NASA is hiring a selection of astronauts for its Artemis missions that aim to set up a station on the moon and send people to Mars. According to Brandi Dean, a spokesperson for NASA, "It's the best job, on or off the planet."

Applications for its next class of astronauts will be between March 2 and 31 - the first step in what is anticipated to be a yearlong selection process. Aspiring space fliers will be required to fill out a detailed online assessment that could take as long as two hours to complete.

Astronauts have a certain reputation to be the best of the best of the best. Since the 1960s, NASA has hired only 350 people to undertake its insanely expensive space missions.

NASA is planning to get to the South Pole of the moon by 2024 and they are vying to send a woman there for the first time, along with another man.

According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, "For the handful of highly talented women and men we will hire to join our diverse astronaut corps, it's an incredible time in human spaceflight to be an astronaut. We're asking all eligible Americans if they have what it to takes to apply beginning March 2."

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According to NASA, it needs the recruits as it lays the groundwork "to launch American astronauts this year on American rockets from American soil to the ISS - with an eye toward the moon and Mars."

In a video, NASA's current lineup of astronauts talked about what it takes to become a space traveler.

Qualified applicants are those with a US citizenship and a master's degree in a science, technology, engineering and math field. Two years of related experience or 1,000 hours of jet aircraft pilot-in-command time is also required. Hired astronauts will be the 23rd group to be selected over the past 60 years and will become part of NASA's Artemis program to move humanity beyond Earth orbit and work from two decades of astronauts living and working in space.

"We're asking all eligible Americans if they have what it takes to apply," said Administrator Bridenstine.

A potential recruit needs these soft skills: technical and operational skills, being fun and being a team player. Only 48 astronauts are currently in the active astronaut corps and more will be assigned to crew spacecraft bound for multiple destinations and propel exploration forward as part of Artemis missions and beyond.

Americans may apply to be an astronaut next month at www.usajobs.gov.

The newly accepted astronauts, following the training, could commence on American rockets and spacecraft developed for NASA's Commercial Crew Program to live and work aboard the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth, where they will take part in experiments that benefit life at their home planet and prepare us for more distant exploration.

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