How much are astronauts paid

What does an astronaut earn? Work and salary in space

To become an astronaut is still the dream of many children and young people. Not least because “Astro-Alex” Alexander Gerst is working on the International Space Station (ISS) this year and is letting the public participate in his work in a friendly way, is the topic Space travel again on everyone's lips. How to become an astronaut, what the Everyday work matters and whether that salary even reached astronomical heights like the astronauts themselves, we will go into that in more detail here.

This is how you become an astronaut

First a little clarification of terms: As Astronauts only the spacemen of the western hemisphere (USA, Canada, Europe and Japan) are referred to. They are called in the area of ​​influence of the former Soviet Union (as it was earlier in the GDR) Cosmonauts, in China is from Taikonauts the speech. Since manned spaceflight began in 1961, hardly more than 550 people have flown into space. H. have more than 100 kilometers from the earth's surface away. So it is a manageable number of people who have had and still have the privilege of traveling into space. The need for personnel at the space agencies is correspondingly low and the more they are conditions to the applicants.

To astronaut of the European Space Agency ESA to become, applicants go through a rigorous Selection process. In the case of Alexander Gerst, however, the top priority was a very normal online application to the European Space Agency. However, anyone who wants to work in a “aloof” position has to bring a lot with them: In any case, you need a relevant one academic education and several years of professional experience in the respective field.

Applicants with the following professional background have opportunities for a job as an astronaut:

Unsurprisingly: for a demanding job, they are flawless physical how mental health and fitness indispensable. Applicants must present a so-called aeronautical medical certificate, as pilots must show. Without technical understanding, scientific skills and quick reflexes it doesn't go into space either. Of course, the candidates must stress resistant and being social people in order to endure the multi-month mission in a confined space with colleagues. It is advantageous to do so even before the astronaut training Experience with extreme situations to have collected.

Out of almost 8,500 applicants, only six were able to get the coveted job at ESA in the most recent selection round - including Alexander Gerst. The successful applicants can then relatively safely expect to be sent on a space mission. But before the flight into space there is still one for the budding astronauts hard training at which they are already receiving a full salary. At least four years the specialists for the mission are trained, because there is no outside help on board a space station - everyone has to be able to rely on everyone unconditionally. Therefore, in addition to scientific and technical skills, practical medical knowledge is one of the absolutely necessary competencies of astronauts.

Activities on board the International Space Station (ISS)

Space is science. And so the everyday life of astronauts who have made it on a space mission essentially consists of (natural) scientific experiments. The crew of the ISS are doing above all else Basic research, for example on the topics of gravity, materials science, plant or crystal cultivation, earth observation and the effects of staying in space on the human body. Around 40 experiments of varying duration are part of the current ISS Expedition 56, which has been running since the beginning of June and is expected to be completed in October 2018. By the way, Alexander Gerst will stay longer on the ISS and will even be the commander of the space station during Expedition 57, which will last until December 2018. So his stay in space lasts half a year. So the mission is of course also a great personal challenge, especially for people with families.

The Everyday work on the ISS Doesn't seem particularly exciting, because the two to six researchers spend 24 hours in narrow spaces while they go about their experiments, circling around the earth at an altitude of around 400 kilometers. According to former astronauts, the meals are a special highlight because they bring structure to the day - even if the proverbial astronaut food may not be culinary delights. According to Alexander Gerst, however, the food is better than its reputation. Of course, many things on board the space station are a lot more cumbersome than on Earth.

Officially, the ISS crew works in an ordinary one, by the way Five days a week without night or holiday surcharges. Those who are free should tidy up and clean their accommodation. In the event of illness, the astronauts work less or not at all. Infections should be there due to the several weeks quarantine Before the space flight, however, almost never give them on board the ISS.

And what do spacemen earn then?

"Nobody does this job to earn money," says ex-astronaut Ulrich Walter in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Indeed, it cannot be said that the elite scientists are amassing great fortunes. As employees of ESA, astronauts conform to theirs salary in the collectively agreed remuneration structure and have no option to negotiate exceptional pay.

While in the training for their space mission, the astronauts receive around 5,000 euros a month - however tax-free. Anyone who has completed one or more space flights like “Astro-Alex” increases with the Experience also the salary around 9,000 euros a month. In addition, there are special payments such as a risk bonus and a low daily flat rate. Accommodation and meals are ultimately provided by the employer.

Even the US space agency NASA does not pay its excellently trained specialists that much compared to the private sector. The US astronauts are predominantly from the military are recruited and accordingly receive remuneration similar to active soldiers. Ultimately, it comes down to a similar high (or low) pay as the European space travelers.

But nobody expects an “astronomical” salary who can be enthusiastic about the work in space. As a scientist, you usually bring a good portion idealism with - and whoever follows how enthusiastically Astro-Alex lets us participate in his everyday life on the ISS via the Internet, you can guess that the job in space is tremendous for some people fulfilling have to be.

California Dreaming. One of my favorite orbits goes from Alaska along the US west coast to over the Andes. We fly this route once a day. # Horizonspic.twitter.com / W7jST3WC4W

- Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) September 5, 2018

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