16. Passing physical and psychological exams
Potential astronauts can’t have medical conditions that would impede their ability to perform tasks in space. NASA puts candidates through a battery of physical and psychological tests, checking blood pressure, eyesight, and other things.
17. Working with astronauts from other countries
Exploration of the universe has come a long way from the days when the Space Race was a proxy for the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The two nations cooperated in the Apollo-Soyuz projects and the space shuttle-Mir programs. Now, many nations are involved in the International Space Station, requiring a spirit of cooperation and understanding among space travelers from various countries.
18. Building core strength
Astronauts are required to build upper body strength in order to be able to stay seated upright and be able to move about and endure microgravity in space. During space walks, they need to have the ability to move without constriction as they lift objects to perform work. They also need strong core muscles; riding in extraterrestrial vehicles is physically demanding. In zero gravity, muscles and bones aren’t needed to support the body, and bones can atrophy without an exercise regimen, so astronauts on the ISS work out to keep muscles strong and bones healthy.
19. Being able to handle time away from loved ones
Rockers David Bowie and Elton John both sang about the solitude of astronauts in space with their songs “Space Oddity” and “Rocket Man,” respectively. Recognizing the toll that loneliness might exact on astronauts, space agencies are using studies of life at Antarctic bases to examine ways of keeping astronauts sane. They are also looking at how crews are selected for missions as well, to insure compatibility.
20. Having maintenance and repair skills
Maintenance and repair skills are crucial for astronauts, particularly those who will be working at the International Space Station. Companies such as DynCorp International train astronauts to perform mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical repair work on aircraft before they begin missions on the space station.