How Much Do Astronauts Get Paid?

How much do astronauts get paid

Nearly every young kid has dreamed of being an astronaut at some point in their lives. The thought of going out into space, the final frontier, is so exciting, fantastical and a dream for many people. 

Astronauts have to go through thorough and extensive training, including medical skills, fitness training, courses about space technology and science, along with earth observations, astronomy, spacecraft control and so much more. 

Astronauts not only need all of the education, experience and scientific knowledge to operate in space, but they also need to know how to survive in various environments, conditions and emergencies.

This is why becoming an astronaut is no easy feat, and a dream for many, many people.

But what is the true reality behind the role, and how much do astronauts get paid to go into space? We are here to tell you everything there is to know about how much astronauts get paid. 

How much do astronauts get paid?

It is hard to decipher an exact sum that astronauts get paid, as this may vary depending on the locations in which they work, or the actual tasks that they perform and are involved in.

In addition, the salary of an astronaut will differ depending on the missions that they partake in, or the training that they have. 

That being said, Nasa was recently looking for the newest recruits for astronaut roles, and offering jobs at the space agency with a range of salary expectations.

The offered wage for new astronauts in the listing was from $104,898 per year. On the other hand, the job listing did also advertise Nasa astronaut roles for up to $161,141 per year. 

In most cases, Nasa will pay its employees based on the scale called the Federal Government’s General Schedule. This scale is then broken down into grades, with different processes and steps for progression, and a higher salary. 

The basic grade is $66,167 for GS-12 at step one. Once you surpass this step, and reach GS-12 step 10, then you could be earning $81,021 a year.

After reaching GS-13 step 10, you could then be earning up to $102,288 per year, however this is just a guide, and some astronauts may earn much more, or less depending on their specific roles. 

How do you become an astronaut?

Becoming an astronaut is not at all easy. In 2017, Nasa only selected 12 new astronauts out of 18,300 applicants for the role!

The process of selection is notoriously difficult, and is said to be around 75 times harder than getting into the prestigious Harvard University. 

This is because astronauts need to have a unique set of skills, knowledge and a very high education in order to succeed in the role.

For instance, to be an astronaut you would need to be a US citizen, and you would have to have an accredited college degree in either science, engineering or mathematics.

Not only this, many applicants need to have three years of experience or up to 1,000 hours of piloting a jet aircraft in order to become an astronaut. 

You would have to also go through grueling physical, mental, and educational training, in how to operate the spacecraft, live in a spacecraft, along with survival training, mental training, and preparation for safety procedures and protocols. 

If you were to travel to space, you would also have to go through fitness tests, mental stability tests, and rigorous coaching to teach you how to remain calm in stressful, or life and death situations.

As you can see, becoming an astronaut is not a simple, quick or easy thing to do, which may reflect the higher salaries. 

How much does an astronaut get paid to go to the moon?

It is also unclear how much exactly astronauts get paid to go to the moon, as many are under different pay grades, work in different job roles, or locations, and receive different salaries.

However, Nasa was recently recruiting for a new generation of astronauts to go to the moon, and possibly even Mars. In the job advertisements, Nasa was offering a salary of up to $161,000 a year to be part of the mission, and to go to the moon. 

How much did the Apollo 11 astronauts get paid?

It has been decades since the last manned mission to the moon, which is why it is difficult to decipher how much astronauts are paid to do so. However, we can compare the salaries of the first mission to the moon, with that of today’s astronaut salaries.

For example, Apollo 11 was the first space mission to go to the moon, landing on July 20th 1969. During this time, the commander, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

Despite making history, Neil Armstrong did not get any bonuses or special pay rises as a result of doing so. 

During the period of the Apollo 11 flight, Neil Armstrong was actually paid an annual salary of about $27,400, and was the highest paid of the astronauts on the mission.

Whilst that seems like a small sum considering the dangers of space, the training and knowledge involved, this amount does roughly equal to $190,680 in modern money, when we consider inflation. 

On the other hand, Buzz Aldrin was the second person to walk on the moon, and did so in the Apollo 11 mission with Neil Armstrong. However, Aldrin’s salary was around $18,600, which is roughly equivalent to $129,600 today. 

The third astronaut on the mission, who kept the spacecraft in orbit whilst Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the surface of the moon, was called Michael Collins. Collins earned roughly around $17,150 in salary, which is about $119,333 today. 

Gordon Watts
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