• Astronauts Prepare For Spaceflight In Russia

Astronauts Prepare For Spaceflight In Russia (Photo : Getty Images)

One of the professions that many kids want to be when they grow up is astronaut. However, there are actually few opportunities to become one as training is rare since countries normally have only one space agency like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the U.S.

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On Tuesday, NASA announced it is accepting applicants to be part of its Astronaut Corps. It is the first time since 2011 that the space agency, which has a number of space ventures coming up, including trips to other planets, is opening its doors to new astronauts.

The announcement states, "Future astronauts will launch again from the Space Coast of Florida on American-made commercial spacecraft and carry out deep-space exploration missions that will advance a future of human mission to Mars," quotes Christian Science Monitor.

To qualify, applicants should be bachelor's degree-holders in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. Teachers could also apply. In addition, candidates must that a minimum of three years of work experience in a related field, study or teaching and minimum of 1,000 hours flying a plane. NASA has higher preference for those with advanced degrees.

Beyond the academic and work experience requirements, applicants are also required to be physically fit to pass NASA standards and stand between 5' 2" and 6' 3". The fitness tests include swimming the length of three pools and 10 minutes of treading water in flight suit and tennis shoes, and repeated exposure to microgravity and short spans of weightlessness up to 40 times a day, and high and low atmospheric pressure, reports CBS.

Among the opportunities of those who would be accepted are being deployed at the International Space Station, two commercial spaceflight partnership programs and working in Orion, a deep-space exploration ship.

NASA currently has 47 active astronauts, although since the 1960s, over 300 people have become NASA astronauts. The number was whittled by one-third since 1999 due to funding problems, but with the planned expansion, including trips to the Red Planet, NASA needs more space explorers.

"Those selected for this service will fly on US made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space," says NASA Administrator Charles Boulden.

As part of the recruitment effort, NASA posted on YouTube an online invitation for applicants and the video has almost 15,000 hits in 12 hours, indicating the deep interest in the program. NASA's application period runs from Dec. 14 through the middle of February 2016, according to CBS.