Mabye its the injection of private investment or “Interstellar” still echoing in our eyeballs, but space exploration seems to have recaptured the public's imagination over the past few years. As proof of space’s ever-growing prestige, a record-breaking number of people have applied for NASA’s 2017 astronaut class.
NASA opened applications in December 2015 and has since received the résumés of over 18,300 astronaut hopefuls, smashing the previous record from 1978’s job posting, which received 8,000 applications. And this number is triple the amount who applied for the last astronaut casting call in 2012.
“It’s not at all surprising to me that so many Americans from diverse backgrounds want to personally contribute to blazing the trail on our journey to Mars,” Charles Bolden, NASA administrator and former astronaut, said in a statement. “A few exceptionally talented men and women will become the astronauts chosen in this group who will once again launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft."
The next stage will involve trimming down those thousands by looking at their qualifications. From here, a select few will be invited for interviews at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Then, between eight and 14 candidates will be selected for a two-year program that trains them in spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills and Russian language lessons.
It’s a pretty intense process, which NASA doesn't expect to finish before mid-2017 – so don’t get too disheartened if you haven't heard from NASA yet.