Training and Screening
Those interested in serving as astronauts must be dedicated and possess strong endurance. Before consideration proceeds, would-be astronauts must go through an initial screening process. The process includes personal interviews, medical testing and an orientation to the NASA selection process. Ofttimes people wait for long periods before being informed they have been selected as a candidate. Once selected, they must go through two years of extensive training. During this period they attend scientific seminars or classes and participate in practical training, including the use of a space suit and how to fly a space shuttle.
After all this, the candidates face the arduous task of waiting. If a mission comes along, NASA chooses who they think will be the best fit for that particular mission. The first suitable opportunity may take years to arrive. The position of astronaut requires one who doesn't lack patience. Once selected for a mission, more training awaits—a minimum of at least six more months. That training is mission-specific.
An astronaut inductee is subject to all sorts of tests requiring physical and mental endurance. The candidate must have the ability to swim three laps in a 25-meter pool without stopping. He or she must also be able to swim while wearing a flight suit and shoes. He needs to be able to tread water, suited up, for a continuous ten minutes. Mission candidates are subjected to high and low atmospheric pressure—to microgravity and intense G-forces. Training includes the ability to handle any sort of emergency during a mission. If the candidate is able to make it through this strenuous process from beginning to end and NASA is satisfied with his level of performance, he will be selected to become a permanent astronaut. If, however, one is rejected for a particular mission, NASA will place set him aside for another opportunity. “Once you become an astronaut at NASA you will be expected to remain as an employee with NASA for at least five years."2