We're all pretty much grounded on Earth these days thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, so if you think that now might be a good time to start training to be an astronaut, you're in luck as NASA is recruiting.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin photographed walking on the moon
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon in 1969 © NASA/Getty Images

NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – says it's looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life for the Artemis Generation program, which is a new era of human exploration. It plans to send astronauts to the lunar South Pole by 2024, and says that exploring the moon will help pave the way for the next giant leap of sending astronauts to Mars. It expects to select final astronaut candidates in mid-2021 to begin their training.

a space shuttle lifts off from Kennedy Space Center
The space shuttle Endeavour lifting off from Kennedy Space Center © Eugene Buchko/500px

The basic requirements include US citizenship and a master’s degree from an accredited institution in a STEM field, including engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics. The requirement for the master’s degree can also be met by two years of work toward a doctorate program in a related science, technology, engineering or mathematics field, or a completed doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathic medicine degree.

Travel News -
German astronaut Alexander Gerst was selected in 2009 to take part in space training © Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images

It can also be met by completion or current enrolment of a nationally or internationally recognized test pilot school program, which must be completed by June 2021. However, candidates with test pilot school as their only advanced degree must also have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a STEM field. They must also have at least two years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. In addition, astronaut candidates must pass the NASA long-duration spaceflight.

Neil Armstrong walking on the moon
Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon © Caspar Benson / Getty Images

“Becoming an astronaut is no easy task because being an astronaut is no easy task,” says Steve Koerner, NASA’s director of flight operations and chair of the Astronaut Selection Board at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “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. But somewhere among those applicants are our next astronauts, and we look forward to meeting you.”

Applicants may submit applications for the program here and the closing date is 31 March at 11:59pm EDT.

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

You might also like:

Lonely Planet Kids: How to be a Space Explorer

Wonderings: are the stars our destination?

Explore related stories

Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya
Ol Pejeta, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Photography


Stargazing in 2024: where to celebrate meteor showers, solstices and eclipses

Dec 27, 2023 • 8 min read