NASA plans to hire 14 new astronauts! Exciting news, indeed! The notice went out last November that they would begin accepting applications on December 4th through mid-February … meaning that if you didn’t already send yours in, you might as well give it up. I sent mine via “certified mail” two weeks ago and am just waiting for my acceptance letter. I am so excited, even though it doesn’t look like I will be going to Mars, but rather helping prepare for a future generation to actually go there. According to the press release, “This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Those selected for this service will fly on U.S. 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.” Still, just in case, I am currently reading The Martian by Andy Weir to prepare myself. And I notice I have been going around singing “Fly Me To The Moon” a lot, too!
One small wrinkle is that there are only 14 available positions, and 18,300 people applied for them, a record for NASA. The previous record number of applications was 8,000 in 1978, and only 6,300 applied in 2012, the last time NASA put out a “help wanted” ad. So, let’s see … all other things being equal, that makes my odds about 0.0055%. Sigh. I am glad I polished my resume before I sent it. Having been retired since 2008, it was looking a bit rusty, stagnant. So I embellished … no, I did not say I lied, I said I embellished … just a bit. Rather like a garbage man calling himself a “sanitation engineer”. I went with “chemical analyst” because I use all sorts of chemicals in my daily routine … bleach, toilet cleaner, laundry detergent, etc. And I included “culinary master” because I toss together a meal for three from scratch at least 5 nights a week. And of course “researcher”, as I do a ton of that for the type of writing I do. And last but not least, I listed “animal behaviour expert”, as with eight cats, you know I am da cat whisperer! Plus, as an added edge, I already receive almost-daily emails from NASA letting me know when I can view the ISS (International Space Station) from my house. Now if that doesn’t show my interest in the space program, I don’t know what will! I think I covered all bases, so that should give me an advantage over the other 18,299, don’t you think?
I am curious, though, why all of a sudden so many people want to be an astronaut? The Washington Post espouses the philosophy that it is because many people saw the film version of The Martian, starring Matt Damon as the astronaut stranded on Mars. I don’t know … that doesn’t make sense … I mean, he was stranded! On Mars! He had to grow potatoes using … well, that’s rather disgusting, so I won’t go any further, but let’s just say some of what he went through was not very pleasant. I cannot see that seeing the movie would romanticize the job so much that 18,300 people would want to run right out and jump into a spaceship.
I have my own philosophy about the reason behind the record number of applicants, and it is based on my own reasoning. I think that these are intelligent people who have given the matter serious thought and concluded that being in outer space, even being stranded on Mars, would be preferable to living in this country if Donald Trump is elected the next president! I am covering all bases … I have contacted Justin Trudeau about seeking asylum in Canada, now I have applied to be an astronaut … I need to find one more fallback plan …
Uh-oh. I just remembered something. I am afraid of heights.