How Much Do Astronauts Get Paid? | See the Answer and Lots More

Some of us had astronaut dreams as children and wondered things like how much astronauts get paid. Many people eventually keep their childhood aspirations close to their hearts until they grow up and become astronauts.

The closest thing to superheroes in real life on the planet is astronauts. Some of the most extraordinary people on the planet travel in spaceships, visit distant planets, and more.

Unfortunately, most of us would find life as an astronaut extremely difficult. According to the NASA website, there are several strict requirements to become an astronaut. 

First of all, you have to be an American citizen. The second need is that you hold a master’s degree in a STEM field (such as engineering, computer science, biology, or mathematics).

You are less likely to be admitted unless you earned your degree from a reputable institution. Although the average pay for astronauts is undoubtedly not modest, you might still be surprised by how much these heroes make annually.

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Who is an Astronaut?

An astronaut is a person who has received specialized training to travel to space. Different tasks are assigned to astronauts in spacecraft. A pilot and a commander are typically present to lead the mission. Other positions include science pilot, payload commander, mission expert, or flight engineer.

Astronauts

Before they may take part in a spaceflight, astronauts must complete rigorous training and testing. They must demonstrate that they can withstand the physical demands of weightlessness in the orbit and high gravity during launch. Additionally, they need to be skilled technically and able to handle any problematic conditions that may happen while on the assignment.

When an astronaut needs to leave the security of their spacecraft, they use specialized equipment called a spacesuit. They can breathe thanks to these spacesuits, which also shield them from the Sun’s radiation and the harsh temperatures of space.

To prevent the Astronaut from floating away, the spacesuits are occasionally tied to the spacecraft. Sometimes, tiny rocket engines are built within the spacesuit to help the astronaut maneuver around the spaceship.

Astronauts are defined by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as “all those who have been launched as crew members on board NASA’s [or any other space agency’s] spacecraft intended for orbit and beyond.”

The word “astronaut,” which can be rendered as “space sailor,” is derived from the Greek words “Astron” and “nautes,” according to the official NASA website.

Being an astronaut is a difficult process that is not for everyone because your physical characteristics and genetic makeup affect your chances. According to one contender, the selection procedure was “out of this world.”

The importance of an astronaut’s employment can be attributed to the fact that they put their lives in danger to advance astronomical knowledge and preserve humanity.

What Are The Responsibilities of an Astronaut? What do Astronauts do? 

While in orbit, including on the International Space Station, astronauts conduct experiments and gather data. Additionally, they experiment with spacecraft to create new ideas for engineering, design, and navigation of a vehicle beyond the atmosphere of the Earth.

They develop hypotheses, carry out experiments to test them, and keep an eye on other ongoing initiatives while they do so. Each Astronaut has a distinct task to complete during a space flight because they fly in groups.

Work performed by astronauts is challenging, possibly hazardous, and complex. Because their safety depends on their ability to rely on one another, they cooperate closely as a team.

Expedition 52 flight engineer Randy Bresnik of NASA
Expedition 52 flight engineer Randy Bresnik of NASA demonstrates the width inside a Soyuz simulator, Thursday, July 6, 2017 at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) in Star City, Russia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

When planning and testing for a space trip, they typically work a 40-hour workweek, but as the countdown approaches and activity is stepped up, they may work long hours, seven days a week.

Naturally, they put in as many hours as necessary while on a mission to reach their goals. On the International Space Station, long-duration assignments can last between three and six months.

The simulators and trainers might be constricting and uncomfortable during the demanding training session. New trainees may experience air sickness due to exercises meant to simulate weightlessness.

On a space mission, astronauts must get used to moving around in small spaces. They must use a straw or eat and drink very cautiously with a fork and spoon because there is no gravity.

To prevent wandering around the cabin, astronauts zip themselves into their bunk beds and secure them with buckles. Since most people sleep in shifts, activity, noise, and lights are constantly present.

Unless you are told, you cannot determine the precise purpose of every AstronautAstronaut in your line of sight. The crew occasionally takes part in different operations while flying to other locations.

How Much Do Astronauts Make?

Astronauts are not athletes or celebrities in the entertainment world and do not deserve to be. As Hollywood stars do after appearing in a big movie, they do not collect millions of dollars for each mission.

According to NASA and some experts, the demand for more astronauts and space scientific professionals will rise as Elon Musk’s Space X and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin launch rockets more frequently. The supply and demand for jobs in this field have not yet reached their peak.

According to NASA, an astronaut who excels in his field can earn more than $100,000 annually. The Astronaut’sAstronaut’s academic and technical qualification grade determines the precise number. Also, if you are a civilian astronaut, your salary may differ from someone who is a military astronaut.

Civilian

The pay grades for potential civilian astronauts are determined by national pay scales and vary according to experience and academic standing. NASA states that the annual pay for civilian astronauts ranges from $104,898 to $161,141.

Listed here are a few advantages provided to civilian astronauts:

  • medical care
  • Travel 
  • Work that’s challenging and engaging
  • cutting-edge training facilities
  • Paid vacation

Military

Military astronauts are usually assigned to military Space Centers, and their pay, leave benefits, and other military considerations depend on their active duty status. Candidates for military space missions usually are commissioned officers with a minimum of five years of on-duty experience.

These tables show the military pay scales for each month. Benefits for military astronauts include those mentioned earlier, as well as monthly housing payments and incentive money for careers in aviation.

Astronauts’ earnings per annum are classified into the official pay scales for grades GS-12 and GS-13. The salary depends on the Federal Government’s space travel budget yearly. If the latter is higher, then astronauts receive higher and better pay.

The US Office of Personnel Management is in charge of the base salary and also regulates how much they can pay an astronaut each year.

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Nasa in 2016: Salaries for Civilian Astronaut.

The Federal Government’s General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-11 to GS-14 is the foundation for candidates’ compensation. The rate is based on each student’s academic record and experience.

The starting salary for a GS-11 is $66,026, and the maximum annual salary for a GS-14 is $144,566.

Nasa in 2017: Salaries for civilian Astronaut

The General Schedule pay schedule determines payments to Federal Government candidates for grades GS-12 through GS-13.

Students’ grades are also assigned based on their academic records and experience.

Currently, the starting salary for a GS-12 is $65,140, while the maximum annual salary for a GS-13 is $100,701.

NASA in 2018: grades GS-11

The GS-11 pay scale for the US government is $98,317 per year, whereas the GS-14 pay scale for astronauts is $63,600.

GS-13 pay grade astronauts might start making $75,628 per year (Step 1) and eventually makeup to $98,317 per year.

Should Astronauts Get Paid More?

Because astronauts go through arduous academic years, rigorous NASA training, and implicitly risk their lives when they travel to space, they should be paid more than they already are. For comparison, the typical salary for a lawyer in 2021 was about $150,000. No lawyer will ever don a spacesuit and go to another planet during their career, even though lawyers are essential to the integrity of the American judicial system.

Given everything, it’s safe to assume that most astronauts don’t gripe much about their pay. Every child has fantasized about becoming an astronaut, as we said at the beginning of the article. And, when the time comes for an astronaut to climb into a spacecraft and blast off, that’s a dream realized. And that’s priceless.

Should You Become an Astronaut? 

Naturally, the decision to become an astronaut is yours to make. The answer to this question wholly depends on you and your selected career path. The requirements to become an astronaut are extremely difficult, and the approach to achieving them is not for the faint of heart.

Before returning to Earth to be with their families, some astronauts spend months in space. As a result, there is a very high commitment to the work.

However, if you possess a strong desire to learn more about the universe and its contents and advance humanity’s goal of colonizing other planets, becoming an astronaut can be a good fit. Knowing how much an astronaut makes now should encourage you to pursue a career in space exploration.

Conclusion

An astronaut’s job is among the most challenging to enter and maintain. As a result of the privatization of the space business, there is a greater need for astronauts currently than there was previously.

According to this assessment, the pay is poor compared to the demanding job requirements. The urge to learn more about the cosmos and make a difference in the world still motivates people to become astronauts, even though the average salary for astronauts may increase.

Do you have concerns regarding the payment of astronauts? Post a comment down below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do astronauts get paid for life?

They stay on active duty and continue to receive a military salary, perks, and time off.

What is a GS 14 astronaut?

Astronauts are qualified for one of these two classes since they have a Ph. D. and extensive specialized training. GS-14 and GS-15 are government positions allocated for upper management. The Senior Executive Service (SES) pay scale is utilized above GS-15.

How much is a NASA astronaut paid?

According to the US government’s 2020 pay scales and a NASA job listing, a civilian astronaut in 2020 can earn between $66,167 and $161,141 per year. However, active military service members can make more through the additional benefits they bring to NASA’s astronaut corps.

How much do astronauts get paid while in space?

The average income for a NASA astronaut in the US is $116,165, with salaries ranging from $24,079 to $640,817. With the top 86 percent earning $640,817, the middle 57% of NASA astronauts earn between $116,169 and $291,008 year.

Is there an age limit to being an astronaut?

The program has no minimum or maximum age requirements. The ages of previously chosen astronaut candidates have ranged from 26 to 46, with an average age of 34.

What are the requirements to apply?

The minimal qualifications for applying are citizenship in the United States, a master’s degree in a STEM discipline, at least two years of relevant professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command experience in jet aircraft.

For the astronaut candidate, teaching experience is regarded as qualifying experience, including experience at the K–12 levels, providing the degree is in science, engineering, or mathematics.

Additionally, the following may satisfy the master’s degree requirement: 

  • two years of study (36 semester hours or 54 quarter hours) in a related discipline of science, technology, engineering, or math to qualify for a doctoral program;
  • a doctorate in medicine or osteopathic medicine that has been earned;
  • Or the conclusion of an accredited test pilot school program (or enrolment in one that will end in completion by June 2021).
  • Despite being closely related to engineering and the sciences, the following degree subjects are not accepted:
  • Technology degrees (Engineering Technology, Aviation Technology, Medical Technology, etc.)
  • Psychology degrees (except for Clinical Psychology, Physiological Psychology, or Experimental Psychology, qualifying).
  • Education in nursing
  • degrees in sports science or related disciplines
  • Social science degrees (Geography, Anthropology, Archaeology, etc.)
  • Aviation, aviation management, or related degrees

Candidates for spaceflight must also be able to pass the NASA long-duration astronaut physical, which has the following requirements in particular:

  • Each eye’s distance and near vision must be correctable to 20/20. Glasses are appropriate to wear. The eye surgeries PRK and LASIK for refractive error are permitted. For intending applicants, it should be noted that such surgeries are acceptable but not necessary.
  • Candidates must meet the anthropometric specifications for the spacecraft and the spacesuit because all crew members will be expected to fly onboard the spacecraft and conduct space walks. The anthropometric standards will be assessed on candidates before they are invited in for an interview.

References

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