Popular Science

Could you qualify to be a full-fledged astronaut?

It's not all glamour and spacewalks, but it is rewarding.
nasa orion practice

Practicing for recovering the Orion spacecraft in the water at the Johnson Space Center

NASA/Radislav Sinyak

Becoming an astronaut isn’t for everyone. Robb Kulin recently became the first astronaut candidate in 50 years to drop out of NASA's astronaut training program, and though it’s tempting to focus on the challenges and stresses he must have faced at NASA, former astronauts emphasize that this isn’t about one candidate who just couldn’t cut it.

“I don’t want to speculate about any specific astronaut,” says Chris Hadfield, a Canadian Air Force pilot and astronaut on three separate missions to space. “But it’s not like someone was taking a course and they just couldn’t hack it and they quit.”

Hadfield says this is exactly what the candidacy period is all about. It’s a time to evaluate whether this is something you truly want to do and where NASA has an opportunity to evaluate if

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