Astronomy

Becoming an Astronaut



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TO BECOME AN ASTRONAUT

You gotta want it soooooooooo bad. That's the first thing. Then you gotta learn stuff, lotsa stuff. I mean you can't learn just any stuff, you gotta learn math, and science, and you gotta play fair, but not too fair. You absolutely can't get caught not playing fair. Still, you gotta be willing to stack the deck.

Eating your vegetables is good training for being an astronaut. Avoiding junk food would be a step in the right direction, although I love the freeze-dried ice cream you can get at the NASA store. I wonder if any astronauts snuck junk food aboard a flight. I would have, which is probably the main reason I am not an astronaut; at least not right now.

Astronauts have to be in shape and have to be at least so tall and not too tall. Some of the training probably deals with stretching people or amputation, but that isn't talked about very much. I think Neil Armstrong was shorter, but got stretched. I think they did it using Einstein's math, but possibly not.

You don't have to go through handsome or beautiful school to be an astronaut, but you have to be clean. Being clean makes the other astronauts want to be with you. Too much close living in a tin can can really lead to disagreements if some one is not clean enough.

Now I am just telling it like I see it. There's probably a couple of things I am missing, but generally all the things I've mentioned helps you get selected to be an astronaut. For sure! You also have to be an A personality, trained by NASA, which means you don't have to be an American, just trained by America's space program gurus. Even if you end up in space and you got there riding on a Russian missile, you're still an astronaut, because, that's right, NASA trained you. Otherwise you are probably a cosmonaut. This means the other guys trained you; unless you are trained in China, then you are something else.

Let's get down to a couple of specifics regarding the astronaut selection process. One thing is you have to have "The Right Stuff". I think that means you have to be kind of wild and adventurous, maybe drink some, be willing to fly hurt (but never tell anyone), have a cool car, and it is really going to help if you know how to fly jets. I am not sure why the last thing is so important, since the rocket or shuttle seems to do all the work, but it is a cool thing to be able to fly, so I think NASA likes it if you can.

Or, you can take the other route and be a scientist. It is probably in your favor if you are like two or three kinds of scientists all wrapped into one. Knowing engineering and microbiology would work. Being a journalist with a mean backhand would not. I think being able to play Texas Holdum has become a requisite too. It used to be chess, but that went out with the shuttle program - or so I am told by, you got it - "reliable sources."

You have to learn how to speak NASA, which means always being positive. If asked about a crash, you gotta say something like, "We are grateful to those who came before us. Their commitment (read dying) has advanced the parameters of the space program greatly." Now, if you say that, you are really going into space - and soon.

What all this means is that if you want to be an astronaut, you should probably get your head examined. Strapped to a ka-zillion gallons of rocket fuel in a flimsy can at the top of a million pounds of thrust soon to be moving at 17,000 plus miles an hour, just so you can experience more weight on your face that the world's heaviest man sitting on you is left of insane on the Jay Leno scale of wacky. For my money, I think I would watch Apollo 13 a few more times before deciding to be "selected" to be an astronaut.

If I did try to become an astronaut, and washed out of the program, I could be assured that I could become many other things: a sparing partner for a Brahma bull, a flag in the middle of a downhill ski slope, perhaps even the guy filming shark attacks in the middle of the ocean.

There's lots to be said about being an astronaut. I think I've said most of the important stuff here. Thank you.

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