For anyone who dreams of becoming an astronaut and blasting off for a deep-space adventure, there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news? Chances are slim that you have what it takes.
NASA expects thousands of applications for a handful of slots, so it can afford to reject all but the best of the best.
You needn’t apply at all unless you’re a U.S. citizen with 20/20 vision (glasses are OK) and at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, mathematics, or biological or physical science.
You must also have at least three years of related professional experience or have spent at least 1,000 hours piloting a jet aircraft. And according to NASA’s whimsical but oh-so-true Tumblr post, you can’t be afraid of heights or have trouble getting along with roommates (see below).
Still in the running? You’ll also need to pass a rigorous physical and psychological exam and meet NASA’s strict “anthropometric requirements.” That’s agency-speak for being neither too big nor too small, and fit enough to move about inside a spacecraft and outside.
Speaking of extravehicular activity, being able to stuff yourself into a spacesuit and make it out of an airlock isn’t enough. Spacewalkers need extraordinary spatial skills so they can work effectively in the disorienting realm of weightlessness, where up is down and right is left, depending on which way they’re floating.
For a glimpse at just how challenging it can be to work in space, try this astronaut selection test posted by NASA’s transatlantic counterpart, the European Space Agency. It’s very, very challenging.