The Majority of an Astronaut’s Life
In actuality, an astronaut will spend very little time in actual space. The majority of their careers are spent in training and providing support to other missions. Once selected, an astronaut endures at least two entire years of basic training. If they’re successful throughout these two years, they’ll graduate and be assigned a space mission or technical roles without the Astronaut Office in Houston. These roles can include anything from providing support to the astronauts in space or developing spacecraft in the future.
For some perspective, Charles Camarda was an astronaut who joined NASA in 1974. He launched into space on the first shuttle mission after Columbia in 2003. His mission was a two-week-long stay in outer space, and it was approximately 5.8 million miles round-trip! For the dozens of types of training, he went through, that’s all the time he spent in space. In his own words, “Training, training, training: survival (water, land, winter, you name it), shuttle systems, space station systems, Russian segment systems, expedition, rendezvous and docking, extra-vehicular activity (spacewalk), robotic arm, etc.” So keep that in mind when you think of the glory of being an astronaut – in reality, you’re just signing up to be a student for life!