US Aims to Bolster Flagging Astronaut Corps

Monday, 12 Sep 2011 09:50 AM

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NASA has hung out the help wanted sign. Despite the fact that the space agency currently has no space vehicle they are in need a few more astronauts, The Washington Post reported.

The 59 astronauts represent a decrease from 150 10 years ago, and NASA needs about six more to maintain its presence on the international space station. It also needs the astronauts to be ready for the next generation of space flight, a National Research Council report concluded.

“The Astronaut Corps appears to be sized below the minimum required,” according to the report, which also noted that the current number of astronauts “poses a risk to the U.S. investment in human spaceflight capabilities.” Space training takes about two and half years, with about four months spent in Russia training on the Soyuz and learning Russian, the report said.

“New astronauts are needed in the pipeline,” Wayne Hale, a former space shuttle launch director who reviewed the report, told the Post. “It takes quite a while to train people for human spaceflight.”

Four to six astronauts must be sent to the space station each year, and others also are needed to work with the commercial companies building new space vehicles. Two Americans, three Russians, and a Japanese crew member are on the space station, the Post reported

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