Astronaut applicants face 2,000-to-1 odds

Image: Scott Kelly
NASA’s Scott Kelly snaps a selfie during a spacewalk at the space station. (Credit: NASA)

You think it’s hard to get into Harvard? Try making an impression when you’re among the record-high group of 18,300 people who applied to be an astronaut.

NASA says that tally is three times as high as the number who applied the last time the space agency put out the call, for the Class of 2013. And it far exceeds the previous record of 8,000 applications, set in 1978 during the buildup to the space shuttle program.

Now that the application deadline has passed, NASA’s Astronaut Selection Board will have to winnow through the pile. The space agency expects to choose somewhere between eight and 14 astronaut candidates for the Class of 2017. That means the acceptance rate will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.05 percent, compared to a 6 percent rate for Harvard.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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