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Wanna be an astronaut? NASA has just opened application process

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Day job getting you down? Fed up with your surroundings? Keen for a complete change of atmosphere?

If you answered in the affirmative to all three questions, then how about becoming an astronaut?

NASA on Monday officially launched its application process for its next lot of space travelers, and anyone can apply. Sure, competition will be super-tough, and you’ll need some solid qualifications under your belt, but who’s to say you’re not up to the job….

“NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars and we’re looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life to help get us there,” NASA administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden said in a release.

Required qualifications include a bachelor’s degree – though an advanced degree is “desirable” – from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics.

A minimum of 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft is also necessary, as is excellent eyesight, healthy blood pressure, and a height of between 62 and 75 inches (157 to 190cm).

Wondering about pay? This “full time, permanent” position will bring in between $66,000 and $144,000 a year, according to the posting.

Successful applicants’ long commute to work could involve traveling to the International Space Station aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner or SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules. If you’re really lucky, you could even find yourself on the Orion spacecraft, which is aiming to become the first manned spacecraft to fly beyond the moon, possibly in 2023.

Bolden said the space agency is now looking for its “next class of astronauts, extraordinary Americans who will take the next giant leap in exploration. This group will launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft and blaze the trail on our journey to the Red Planet.”

NASA has been using Russian rockets to take its astronauts into space since the final Space Shuttle mission four years ago. But the U.S. is now preparing home-soil launches and wants to build a new team of astronauts to help it achieve its goal of manned deep-space exploration.

The last time NASA put out a call for new astronauts in 2013, it selected eight candidates from 6,100 applications – the most it’d ever received.

Commenting on the exciting opportunity, Brian Kelly, director of flight operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said, “Some people would be surprised to learn they might have what it takes. We want and need a diverse mix of individuals to ensure we have the best astronaut corps possible.”

The agency is accepting applications through mid-February and plans to make final selections in mid-2017.

So if you’re the ambitious, talented type and looking for a truly out-of-this-world (ahem) opportunity, then head over to the job posting now to put your name forward.

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