NASA space boot camp

NASA boot camp: Another day at the office 

words: andreas rottenschlager
photography: justin bastien

Since 1961, NASA astronauts have been training at the Johnson Space Center in Texas for the greatest adventure any human being can undertake: surviving in space. The Red Bulletin visits space boot camp to quiz NASA’s experts

Our journey into space starts behind a mousy-grey, wire-mesh fence. It’s 7am and we’re at the entrance tothe Lyndon B Johnson Space Center, an hour’s drive south of Houston. A series of massive, faceless buildings and a network of never-ending link roads, there is little to suggest that here on the Gulf Coast of the United States they are pushing back the frontiers of human experience.

For five decades now, the NASA astronaut corps – currently 30 men and 14 women – have been learning how to survive in space here, supported by a 3,200- strong team of technicians and engineers. There is almost nowhere else on Earth where so many highly qualified people work together to solve such complex problems. Almost nowhere else does one learn so much about teamwork, self-belief, fear and taking the initiative.

The Red Bulletin spent three days talking to veterans, instructors and the high-flyers of the current crop of astronauts. The result: a NASA guide to space that also delivers expert tips for how to live life on Earth.



Find out, what it needs to get onto the team. A guideline in four easy steps included. And did you know that an astronaut’s secret weapon against panic is wiggling your toes? Chief of the astronaut office, Chris Cassidy, has the answers to your questions.

Read more here:

How to become a NASA astronaut

BECOME A NASA ASTRONAUT IN FOUR EASY STEPS* 1. PREREQUISITES: US citizenship, BSc in Engineering, Biology, Maths, Physics or related area. Three years of research or 1,000 hours of jet flight. 2. CANDIDATE SELECTION: Occurs approximately every two to five years, depending on need. Apply in writing, undergo multiple medical tests and interviews.

the fleet

Ellington Air Field near Houston is where NASA maintains its 20 T-38 supersonic training jets. Astronauts have to fly at least four hours per month to hone their decision-making skills in stress situations

#2 How to prepare for your first journey into space (or: how to get through the job interviews)

Once you think you meet all the requirements, the real challenge begins: You will have to step over your comfort zone and go to the job interview. Victor Glover, who was chosen from 6,000 astronaut applicants, reveals his experiences and explains how to deal with uncomfortable questions. He even had to write a poem during the application process.

Read the poem and find out more here: 

How to train for your first journey into space

Once you'd made it into NASA, like every other newbie, you had to undergo the two-year astronaut candidate training programme. You make it to the final eight out of 6,000 people, and then suddenly within 24 hours you're a rookie again. How does a high-performer like you deal with that loss of status?

© nasa

#3 How to survive in space

Tom Marshburn has already spent 161 days in space. He knows a thing or two about the most important rules on bord. One would probably think about extreme situations as shown in Sci-Fi films, but teamwork and dealing with arguments is more important on a daily basis. Rule #1: make sure your colleagues don’t have to clean up after you…

Read the full interview here:

How to survive in space

Give your input. But if the group consensus or your commander's decision is not what you wanted, then dive in and embrace it anyway. The goal of a commander is to make sure that everybody has the same vision. What is a commander's vision in space?

A Saturn V rocket – some 110m long – at the Rocket Park Museum in Houston. The largest rockets ever built by NASA took 24 astronauts to the Moon and back between 1968 and 1972


NASA hopes to send the first astronauts to Mars in the 2030s. However, this needs a lot of preparation, and also research on how the body withstands weightlessness for so long. Red Wiseman – who has already spent 165 days in space – explains how astronauts work out to face the physical challenges.

Click here and start your training now:

How to train for that first mission on Mars

It's OK at first. But after four to five hours, you get really tired. How do you fight that in space? Double checks are incorporated into work processes as a matter of course. You make sure every movement is correct. If you can't get the work done, phase out and come back into the Space Station.

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