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NASA Is Hiring Astronauts For The First Time In Five Years

For the first time since 2015, NASA has announced it's hiring new astronauts after the last recruitment round received a record-breaking number of applications.

But before you get ahead of yourself, it's worth remembering the competition is gruelling and the criteria strict.

NASA hired just 11 people from a staggering 18,300 applicants the last time it opened applications in 2015.

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Since the 1960s, NASA has selected 350 people to train as astronaut candidates for its increasingly challenging missions to explore space.

To qualify, you must be a US citizen, have a masters degree in a STEM field and have racked up at least 1,000 hours of piloting a jet craft or two years of related work experience.

After meeting NASA's stringent criteria, candidates must pass a two-hour online test and a physical examination for long-duration space flight.

Successful candidates will then have to undergo at least two years of intensive training, including spacewalking and robotics, before they can be launched into space and live and work aboard the International Space Station.

And just to make things more difficult, candidates are also given Russian language training.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain arrived back on Earth from her six-month mission to the ISS on June 24. Photo: Reuters

Even then, the two years of training does not guarantee candidates will be selected as an astronauts. They will also have to complete training and pass the evaluation period.

But aspiring astronauts will be well-paid for their efforts, earning between AUD$159,105-$244,412 a year.

The announcement comes as NASA unveiled plans to send the first woman and next man to the Moon with its Artemis program.

“America is closer than any other time in history since the Apollo program to returning astronauts to the Moon," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement on Wednesday.

"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.”

After returning humans to the Moon in 2024, NASA said it seeks to send astronauts to the lunar surface once per year on expeditions and establish sustainable lunar exploration by 2028.

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Australians will work closely with NASA in the efforts to send humans back to the moon within five years, then on to Mars.

"Gaining new experiences on and around the Moon will prepare NASA to send the first humans to Mars in the mid-2030s," the space agency said.

But NASA also reminded applicants that while becoming an astronaut is a dream for many, it can only achieved by few.

“Becoming an astronaut is no easy task, because being an astronaut is no easy task,” said Steve Koerner, NASA’s director of flight operations.

"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.”

Those who think they have what it takes to be launched into space have until March 31 to apply.

Contact Eden at egillespie@networkten.com.au