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Careers at NASA

¨  How can I become a NASA engineer?
¨  Do you help people get into NASA?
¨  How does a non-citizen work for NASA or other space agencies?
¨  Looking for a career that involves maths

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QUESTION:
How can I become a NASA engineer?  How can I become an astronaut?  What are you working on now?  What are you going to work on in the future?  Can you give me some advice on where to go to college to become a scientist for NASA?

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 2 May 2006:
To become an engineer for NASA, just try to do your best at whatever engineering discipline you choose.  I suggest, if you are in the US, when you get to high school, try to apply for summer student internships at NASA.  There you can get a feel for what NASA is like and get your foot in the door.  NASA hires engineers with all kinds of backgrounds because they need all kinds of experience.

To become an astronaut you need to excel at whatever you do.  Astronauts come from all sorts of backgrounds as well.  Some are engineers, some are pilots, some are doctors, some are geologists, etc.  You will have to be well-established in whatever you do before you apply to become an astronaut.

Regarding your question, "What are you working on now?  What are you going to work on in the future?", if you would like this answered, can you give me a more specific question and which one of our experts you would like to answer it?

Again, NASA employees come from everywhere in the US (and overseas).  That's why there is no one college to "go" to.  Find a college that suits your own needs (what they offer, location, research facilities, etc.).

Good luck in your studies!

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QUESTION:
Do you help people who wants to work at NASA?  Can you help me?  I live in Eritrea which one finds in the horn of Africa.  Please help me.

ANSWER from Imagiverse on 11 May 2006:
We don't help people look for jobs at NASA, but some of us here know a lot about NASA.  Are you really interested in the space program?  That's great!  The space program requires people from all sorts of backgrounds (engineers, businesspeople, scientists, doctors, technicians, public relations people, etc.) so it would be in your best interest to study whatever you like.  One thing you have to be aware is that to work for NASA you need to become a US citizen.  Some companies that do work for NASA do not have the requirement, though.  Good luck in your studies!

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QUESTION:
I live in South Africa and there aren't any space exploration type agencies anywhere near me, as far as I've gathered.  How do non-citizens make attempts to work with NASA, ESA or other agencies?

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 5 July 2006:
If you want to directly work for a government space agency, you will have to research on your own each agency and see whether they hire non-citizens.  Working directly for say, NASA, would be next to impossible without becoming a US citizen.  The European Space Agency, ESA, hires people who are from member states (most European countries and Canada).  So, not becoming a national might prove to be a problem working as an employee of that agency.

Of course, there are contractor companies that make up the bulk of people who work in the space program.  Some may have residence/citizenship requirements.  As in any industry, companies will accept highly promising job candidates and ask them to come over abroad.  So if you work hard you can try looking for jobs in the aerospace sector outside of South Africa.

Astronauts will be nationals of the country that they represent.  "International" astronauts are few and so the country will likely want to hire someone who was a longtime contributing national.  However, as seen at NASA, a modest number of their astronauts come over from other countries.  They came to the US, became US citizens and then applied to be a US astronaut.  Currently in space right now, astronaut Piers Sellers was originally from England, but now is an astronaut representing the US. For astronaut biographies, visit:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/

I'm not sure how much of help I was to you.  As you start your career, you will have to consider where you are willing to work, and whether there are opportunities there.  Good luck.

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QUESTION:
I am interested in pursuing a carrer in NASA but I'm not sure yet what I would like to do.  I enjoy making and designing projects like fitting and tuning on the lathe and enjoy maths so I would like a position involving maths.

ANSWER from Roger Herzler on 6 October 2006:
I would suggest pursuing a career in engineering, particularly mechanical engineering.  Their work with hardware and use of math seems like a natural fit.  Contact a local university and see if they offer engineering degrees.  Ask them questions and see if it's something you're interested in.

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Last Updated:
2 July 2007
 

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