Russia's Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station crew.
Photograph by Kirill Kudryavtsev — AFP via Getty Images
By Michal Addady
December 14, 2015

NASA is searching for “a new class of astronauts,” and the application period is now open.

The agency announced last month that it would soon start accepting applications for new astronauts in anticipation of a journey to Mars. The job posting, listed on USAJobs.com, states that chosen applicants will have the chance to continue the work that has been going on in the International Space Station for the past 15 years, “explore farther in space than humans have ever been,” and become a public face of NASA.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and are expected to satisfy minimum educational and physical prerequisites. They will have to meet certain anthropometric requirements to ensure they’ll be able to perform necessary actions in both the spacecraft and spacesuit, as well as pass medical examinations.

They’ll have to go through various stages of evaluation, first by the Astronaut Rating Panel and then by the Astronaut Selection Board. Once the latter selects the finalists, officials will choose astronaut candidates.

Acceptance into the Astronaut Candidate Program will be announced by the spring of 2017, and those who have been selected will report for duty at the Johnson Space Center the following fall. Candidates will still have to successfully complete between two and three years of training before they can officially be selected as an astronaut.

Annual salary ranges from about $66,000 to more than $140,000, and the application period closes on Feb. 18.

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