Author Topic: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight  (Read 6162 times)

Offline martinlematre

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Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« on: 07/12/2013 07:58 PM »
I'm a Canadian/American citizen attending a university in British Columbia. I'm studying M. Eng with plans to take the thermofluids (Only space relevant option for M. Eng here, as there is no Aero/Astro Eng).

I have some pretty big plans and am planning on working with the CSA and NASA, with hopes of becoming an Astronaut for either organization. Since they're so closely tied together it really doesn't matter which one specifically, but since CSA has limited astronaut intake, it will by all probability be with NASA.

Now I know this plan is a bit down the road for me. I'm only 19 years old, and I'm pretty aware of the general elements and qualifications that make up the character of a person in such a position. Education, experience, health and certain language comprehension seem to be the main requirements for Astronauts in both organizations.

What I'm trying to figure out is, -- in addition to the aforementioned -- what other things could I be doing right now to improve my qualifications and make my inevitable resume look better? What activities, hobbies, awards, clubs, any other sort of activities should I take up that can move me into a more qualified zone? I do have a genuine interest in space flight, space, engineering etc, but it's hard to find a middle ground between doing really well and being able to devote time to all of these extra curricular activities. Would something like being the head of a technical club and getting into a hobby that utilizes my fortunate geographic situation (Such as hiking, other outdoor stuff in BC) suffice? When should I start learning the languages such as Russian/Mandarin? I'd like to be relatively fluent by the time I apply (~10 years).

This is the only kind of place I could think of to post this, so I apologize if it's kind of out of the typical user's realm of knowledge.

Offline JimOman

Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #1 on: 07/17/2013 06:53 AM »
Hello from a fellow student (aero eng)

Look to the CSA for activities and opportunities. Here in the US, NASA provides lots of opportunities/contests/challenges, etc. that students can try to compete in. I've been lucky to be a national winner/participant of one of them and am participating in more now. This also opens doors to other opportunities, internships, professional organizations and more. I now get to travel to Washington, DC each year to talk about the importance of NASA with lawmakers. How sweet is that?

In addition to the CSA, look into any Canadian aerospace and defense companies and see if they have programs for students.

I feel your pain when it comes to finding time to devote. I'm a husband, father and youth hockey coach- but still get my fingers in as many projects as I can. I'm sure you know that you will have to sacrifice time (and tuition money!) to make your dream come true.

As far as learning Russian or Mandarin, I'd definetly go with Russian. I can't see us being too cozy with the Chinese in the next 10-15 years at least. Russians, however, are our partners right now.
As far as when to start learning Russian?
Start RIGHT NOW. Trust me.

Hope this helps-

Jim
NASA National Collegiate Aerospace Scholars, 2010
CSE Student Rep, Congress 2012, 13, 14

Offline JimOman

Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #2 on: 07/17/2013 06:57 AM »
Oh, and this is the perfect place to be asking these questions. We have students, NASA and industry professionals, engineers of many disciplines and knowledgable armchair astro-nuts as well.

Most of them are even nice.  ;D
NASA National Collegiate Aerospace Scholars, 2010
CSE Student Rep, Congress 2012, 13, 14

Offline p51

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #3 on: 07/17/2013 10:38 PM »
One big thing:
DO NOT get married or tied down to anything you can't leave on its own for months or years at a time.
"The years forever fashion new dreams when old ones go. God pity a one-dream man."
-Robert Goddard

Offline martinlematre

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #4 on: 07/18/2013 09:16 AM »
Hello from a fellow student (aero eng)

Look to the CSA for activities and opportunities. Here in the US, NASA provides lots of opportunities/contests/challenges, etc. that students can try to compete in. I've been lucky to be a national winner/participant of one of them and am participating in more now. This also opens doors to other opportunities, internships, professional organizations and more. I now get to travel to Washington, DC each year to talk about the importance of NASA with lawmakers. How sweet is that?

In addition to the CSA, look into any Canadian aerospace and defense companies and see if they have programs for students.

I feel your pain when it comes to finding time to devote. I'm a husband, father and youth hockey coach- but still get my fingers in as many projects as I can. I'm sure you know that you will have to sacrifice time (and tuition money!) to make your dream come true.

As far as learning Russian or Mandarin, I'd definetly go with Russian. I can't see us being too cozy with the Chinese in the next 10-15 years at least. Russians, however, are our partners right now.
As far as when to start learning Russian?
Start RIGHT NOW. Trust me.

Hope this helps-

Jim


This helps a lot, thanks.

Right now I am kind of focusing on becoming fluent in french, so maybe I will start russian in a year or so. I can't see myself being involved with nasa for another ~6 years at the very least anyway so I think that's enough time.

As far as non academic activities, do you have any suggestions for things I can get involved with in my own school community? Reading a lot of astronaut's bios, I see there were a great deal who led or created clubs, were members of certain societies etc.

Offline Pipcard

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #5 on: 08/01/2013 03:34 PM »
What if you want to be a space engineer, but not an astronaut?

Offline martinlematre

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #6 on: 08/07/2013 05:02 AM »
What if you want to be a space engineer, but not an astronaut?

That's more or less what an astronaut does

unless you mean working on things on earth. I believe it's the same route. You'd go into astronautical engineering, though things like fitness and languages wont be as necessary

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #7 on: 08/07/2013 05:27 AM »
If you're a dual citizen you should still be eligible for internships at one of the NASA centers.  Start looking into it.  If you get your foot in the door while still in college it will be a big boost.  Though I don't know how many internship positions will be available in this weird budget cycle.  But don't let that stop you from trying.

Offline Rabidpanda

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #8 on: 08/07/2013 08:41 AM »
What if you want to be a space engineer, but not an astronaut?

Get a degree in aerospace engineering.

Offline martinlematre

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #9 on: 08/11/2013 12:33 AM »
Weird question here - but seeing as I can't really contact NASA directly, I'd maybe ask you guys who may have some idea.

I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid and I'm guessing that's on my record somehow. Will this prohibit me in any kind of selection phase later on? I really don't experience the symptoms and fear some kind of misdiagnoses, but am a bit unsure on the route to take to clear that up.

I really don't want to pour everything into this for 15 years and then get my app thrown into the trash because of some childhood (~8 years old?) diagnosis.



Offline Jim

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #10 on: 08/11/2013 12:44 PM »

I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid and I'm guessing that's on my record somehow.


What record?  That is only between you and your doctor.  NASA would not have access to these nor the rest of the gov't for the matter.  The only way employers would get this info is if you supply it.  Anyways, it can't be used as a discriminator by NASA or anybody else, that is against the American Disabilities Act.

Edited:  didn't see that you were Canadian.

If you want to work in US aerospace industry, become a US citizen. 

Also, look to work in industry vs NASA, there are more opportunities.
« Last Edit: 08/11/2013 12:49 PM by Jim »

Offline martinlematre

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #11 on: 08/14/2013 02:11 PM »

I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid and I'm guessing that's on my record somehow.


What record?  That is only between you and your doctor.  NASA would not have access to these nor the rest of the gov't for the matter.  The only way employers would get this info is if you supply it.  Anyways, it can't be used as a discriminator by NASA or anybody else, that is against the American Disabilities Act.

Edited:  didn't see that you were Canadian.

If you want to work in US aerospace industry, become a US citizen. 

Also, look to work in industry vs NASA, there are more opportunities.

Thanks for the reply, Jim.

I have Canadian/American citizenship.

When would be the best time to hopefully opt for a pilot's license? I know it's not necessary if I go to gradschool (Very likely), but I just can't see a time where I can carve out years and cash for flight training on top of that. I'd love to get up into the air and have been looking into some summer-run piloting courses I would be able to supplement my full-time education with, but the licensing that matters will cost me much more than I could possibly get during school. Actual flying seems like a path most astronauts go down who necessarily go straight to grad school after their BSc.

Hoping to get my Scuba diving licensing done next year too, along with my parachuting license if possible.

And for the bit about other opportunities; yes of course I'd love to explore any options that put me working in any kind of space-technology environment. This is still all quite a ways down the line and by the time I get there, maybe private space industries will be getting a bit more attention. I'm quite optimistic about the prospects for the space industry in both government and private fronts, and as long as I can get a job doing what I love and I'm actively in a position to go up to the ISS or other, I'd be very happy. SpaceX seems to be an increasingly viable option as time passes and I am absolutely thrilled with the progress they've been making.

« Last Edit: 08/14/2013 02:21 PM by martinlematre »

Offline Jim

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #12 on: 08/14/2013 02:19 PM »
I would concentrate on school vs diving or parachuting.  They aren't going to help you as much as grades and jobs you will hold.

Offline martinlematre

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #13 on: 08/14/2013 02:22 PM »
I would concentrate on school vs diving or parachuting.  They aren't going to help you as much as grades and jobs you will hold.

Yes of course, during school grades are my main priority (September to May).

But for the summer, actually getting out and gradually chipping away at those things and enjoying my beautiful Canadian backyard seem like great ways to add a consistent, necessary balance ;). These things will probably be done alongside co-ops starting next summer.
« Last Edit: 08/14/2013 02:23 PM by martinlematre »

Offline Adan Bailey

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #14 on: 08/16/2013 10:02 AM »
Thanks for delivering useful knowledge that NASA provides of opportunities/contests/challenges. First time this information increases my knowledge and awareness.

Offline SalemHanna

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #15 on: 08/28/2013 11:41 AM »
It doesn't hurt to have some military experience under your belt. A LOT of astronauts and cosmonauts, even post Cold War, have served their countries' armed forces. Tim Peake will soon become the first British astronaut to fly to the International Space Station and he's a former British Army helicopter pilot. Both the first and last commanders of the shuttle programme - John Young and Chris Ferguson - are ex-US Navy. 
Apollo, Soyuz, Shuttle...SKYLON.

Offline martinlematre

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Re: Ingredients for a career in Space Flight
« Reply #16 on: 09/14/2013 05:18 AM »
I'm noticing that it seems like NASA is looking for pilots more than anything. As a canadian already in a bachelors program for and engineering degree, what options do I /realistically/ have to get some kind of piloting supplement? I'd still really like to go to gradschool somewhere in the states, and with my rough current plan for the future, I just  don't see a time period where I can just join the royal canadian air force or go to school for a commercial pilot license

So pretty much the degree/area of study I'd like to Aerospace Engineering, but I don't know how to supplement it with piloting in my situation.