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how much money do astronauts make

How much money do Astronauts make? | Salary Revealed

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  • Post last modified:June 20, 2022

How much money do astronauts make?

One of the most dreamed-of career options in the United States of America is becoming an astronaut and flying off in a spaceship to some distant planet.

finding extraterrestrial life, and finding answers to a lot of unanswered questions about space.

Well whether you are a kid aspiring to be an astronaut or a parent researching the profession of an astronaut for your ward or a serious young candidate looking to start preparing for becoming an astronaut one of the most asked questions in your mind must be

How much money do astronauts make? Are the time and effort required for preparation, the money required for completing the course, and the risk of life an astronaut takes worth it?

Don’t worry we have you covered as we will be discussing key aspects of preparation to become an astronaut while we also focus on the topic of how much money do astronauts make?

So fasten your seat belts and be ready to get into the ride as we move into some interesting topics.

How to become an Astronaut? a Step by Step Guide

how much money do astronauts make

Before you know about the salaries and job benefits you can get by selecting astronauts to be your career option let’s first look into how to become an astronaut first.

The journey to the vast spaces of the universe more specifically to various parts of the solar system is not an easy one and hence the selection to become an astronaut is also a difficult nut to crack.

Below is the career map one needs to follow to fulfill the dream of becoming an astronaut.

  • An astronaut aspirant must maintain a good educational qualification and achieve a master’s degree generally in a STEM field and be selected for NASA
  • There is no college or university which gives you a degree to be an astronaut you need to maintain good intellect in mathematics and science to be selected by NASA for becoming an astronaut
  • One of the key requirements for a person aspiring to be an astronaut is a master’s degree along with 2 years of relevant work experience or completing 1000 hours as a pilot in command of a jet aircraft.
  • Physically one is required to be between a height of 5 ft 2in and 6ft 3 inches, vision of 20/20, and blood pressure must not exceed 140/90 while sitting down.
  • If you go through the intense screening procedure the next step is even more challenging as an astronaut needs to go through a 2-year training which involves both physical and classroom training
  • The training also includes learning the Russian language required to communicate with the Russian Space Mission Control Center
  • The next step involves passing physical tests certification like the scuba certification and swimming 3 laps in a pool while wearing the full astronaut suit or gear
  • The nest part of physical training involves undergoing military land and water survival training for surviving emergency situations in case of a crash landing.
  • Finally, once you are selected to go on a space mission one starts astronaut training in simulations to get better prepared.

The entire process is a long one as it takes almost a decade to be certified as an astronaut including 6 years of school, 2 years of professional experience, and 2 years of basic astronaut training.

Post which one has to wait months or years to be selected for his/her first space mission.

More about the job: Being an Astronaut

Getting selected for the role of an astronaut in NASA is a meager 0.7% according to a retired col.

In fact, as per recruitment data of 2017, there were a total of 18300 applications that got submitted to NASA but only 12 were selected which is less than 1%.

It shows how difficult it can be to make the final cut to even being selected as an astronaut.

In NASA, he also mentioned that it is not important to stack up degrees for improving the chance of selection, but rather one should focus on subjects of engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics for becoming an astronaut.

Roles and Responsibilities of an Astronaut

An astronaut doesn’t only fly in the vastness of space but also has a number of jobs as part of being an astronaut and roles assigned based on their position during a space mission

A commander of a space mission is a person who is entitled to the role of being the leader and taking all important decisions to be made during a space mission.

The pilot works mostly with the commander in managing the flight

They also have to fulfill mundane activities like cleaning the space station, repairing equipment, etc.

How much money do astronauts make: Actual Figures

how much money do astronauts make

So now we are ready to know how much money do astronauts make. There are 2 types of salaries given to astronauts.

  1. Civilian Salaries: Based on NASA a civilian astronaut is given a salary based on pay grade  GS-11 to GS-14 which effectively means their annual salaries begin at around $66000 and one can earn up to $144566 annual salary as they make upward strides in their career as a civilian astronaut.
  2. Military Salaries: For any space mission along with civilian astronauts some military people are also selected in order to maintain tough situations in space. Since their role in space is different one gets paid based on active-duty status in military service.

For example, a colonel or captain is given a salary at an O-6 grade.

Once military personnel complete eight years of service, they would be able to take away a salary of $96,360 annually, and completing Ten years of service will mean getting a salary of  $96,876 annually

While 20 years of service significantly increases the yearly payment of salary to $123,540 a year.

A  rank of brigadier general, astronauts are awarded salary at the O-7 pay grade and as discussed above salary varies based on years of service completed, which means post completing of 8 years in service annual pay is $118872,

10 years of service will lead to $112544 per year and 20 years of service gives a brigadier-ranked military astronaut draws a salary of  $151,092 a year.

Hopefully, the above section clarifies your question about how much money do astronauts make in a year based on various rank and their roles.

Job benefits

Apart from the high salary one draws by working as an astronaut there are multiple non-cash benefits that one needs to look into

Military personnel with the rank of colonels and captains are able to get a monthly  $1,528 for housing without any dependents, & approximately $1,845 a month with dependents.

While military personnel with the rank of Brigadier General & with rank above this are able to receive a monthly allowance of  $1,667 a month without dependents and $2,050 with dependents.

As an additional incentive, some may be eligible to get some special perks like extra pay Iy in the form of aviation career incentive pay, which amounts to an additional monthly allowance of $150 to $1,000 a month more than base salaries.

Unfortunately, Civilian astronauts are not eligible for any of these benefits


What is the most important requirement to become an astronaut

To order it in terms of importance the top requirements of becoming an astronaut are being a USA citizen, holding a STEM degree in engineering, science, or mathematics from an accredited institution

What are the top 4 skills must-haves for an astronaut

Mental endurance, physical fitness, intelligence, and adaptability


Kudos!! We have finished our article on the topic of how much money do astronauts make. We have provided full details about the job of being an astronaut,

Which includes eligibility criteria, educational qualifications, selection process, training process, and final salary and job benefits one can receive by becoming an astronaut thus answering the question of how much money do astronauts make.

Hopefully, all the details provided would be sufficient for you to make a decision about becoming an astronaut or preparing your son or daughter to become an astronaut.

One important aspect of becoming an astronaut which we would like to reiterate is the mental toughness and physically fit body one requires in this profession

Hence if post joining NASA you feel you are not quite cut out for taking up a role as an astronaut and flying away from mother earth you can always look for alternative employment opportunities in astronomy.

You can be an astronaut instructor, a professor in astronomy, or work as an aerospace engineer without ever needing to fly in space.

Another interesting job one can take-up is becoming an atmospheric scientist who is engaged in studying atmospheric phenomena and climates using satellites and radar systems, nearly 10000 recruitments were done for the post of atmospheric scientist in 2019.

We would also like to caution you about the several physical challenges faced by space travelers as astronauts may experience severe health issues like radiation effects, bone loss, muscle weakness, etc. post-space voyage.

Thus while you aspire to be an astronaut do not think of only how much money do astronauts make rather try to see the complete picture for choosing to be an astronaut.

We wish good luck to all budding aspirants preparing for becoming an astronaut, hopefully, your dreams come true as you fly into the universe, and do feel free to go through this article whenever required.

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