A new breed of astronaut

On 16 April 1964, the National Academy of Sciences was requested to participate in identifying scientific criteria for the selection of "scientist-astronauts" by Dr. Homer E. Newell, now serving as NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Sciences and Applications.14

A series of meetings by an ad hoc Committee on Scientific Qualifications of Scientist-Astronauts began in May 1964. In the selection process, the NAS would screen the scientific qualifications of all the applicants, while the Office of Manned Space Flight in Washington and the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston would assume all other responsibilities for selection and screening. The announcement of the opportunity came on 19 October, just one week after the Soviet Union had placed a three-person crew into orbit for twenty-four hours aboard the first Voskhod spacecraft, under the command of pilot Vladimir Komarov. Flying with him were physician Dr. Boris Yegorov and engineer Konstantin Feoktistov, the first "civilians" to enter orbit. All the previous cosmonauts and astronauts had been serving members of the military forces, including the 1962 Soviet Women Group, who had been specially inducted into the Air Force shortly after selection.

The NASA release stated, "A vast scientific frontier is being opened to direct scientific exploration by man. Observations made by scientist-astronauts will provide new information on the solar system and on man's ability to perform effectively in prolonged space flight.'' The scientist-astronaut programme was open to applicants from scientific, medical or engineering fields, or any combination of these specialisations.

To be eligible for consideration, each applicant had to:

• Have been born on or after 1 August 1930; be a citizen of the United States; and be no taller than 182 cm (six feet, limited by the Apollo spacecraft's internal volume).

• Have either a Bachelor's degree, a doctorate in the natural sciences, medicine or engineering, or the equivalent in experience.

• Have transcripts of their academic records sent directly to the Scientist-Astronaut Selection Board at MSC from all the institutes of higher education they had attended.

• Have scores in the graduate record examination sent directly to the Scientist-Astronaut Selection Board by Educational Testing Service (ETS) of Princeton, New Jersey. Applications for the examination (and the appropriate fee) had to arrive at the ETS by 31 December 1964, with the examination taking place on 16 January 1965.

• Submit Standard Form 57, the Federal Employment Applicant Form.

• Submit Standard Form 89, the Report of Medical History, signed by both the applicant and their physician.

• Submit Standard Form 78, the Certificate of Medical Examination, completed by the applicant and their physician.

All applications had to be postmarked by midnight on 31 December 1964 to be eligible for consideration. Following preliminary screening, certain applicants would be asked to submit additional material, including published or unpublished scientific or engineering reports; essays of field experiences, research activities, or hobbies related to space missions; and individual thoughts on the scientific objectives of manned space missions.

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Responses

  • LUCIE
    Is there any field which is a combination of astronaut and scientist?
    4 years ago

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