Unemployed? Fill out an online application for NASA and who knows, maybe you'll end up in space with a paycheck.
With national unemployment at regrettably high levels, many people in America are spending their days looking past Tupperware bowls of chicken-flavored ramen noodles to crappy job postings in the classifieds. Some of these unfortunates will do almost anything to pay the rent, things like scrubbing out public venue urinals, grilling fast food mystery meat grease-burgers, or wearing elaborate mascot costumes at busy intersections with a sign in one hand and a soulless wave in the other. These determined Americans are filling out standard job applications everyday to be janitors, consumer sales representatives, telemarketers, astronauts ... wait a moment, did I just say astronauts? I suppose I did. Good news, everyone! NASA might want to pay you to go to space, and you can apply for the job from the same computer you're using to read this very sentence.
NASA may have put out an unheard-of open application call for wannabe spacemen and spacewomen, but that doesn't mean it's going to be easy. For starters, you'll need US citizenship, a height that falls between 5'2 and 6' (sorry, Stretch), 20/20 vision, a Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics, and three years of relevant professional experience or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in a jet aircraft. Hopefully, by "relevant professional experience" they don't actually mean "has already explored space." I wonder if they'd count the more than three years I've spent watching Star Trek, Firefly and Futurama ...
If you look good on paper, your next hurdle will be a yearlong follow up that includes extensive interviews and medical exams. According to NASA, they'll be looking for a few key traits in potential space-farers. "Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. And a probing mind," the official site reads. "That's what it takes to join NASA, one of the best places to work in the Federal Government."
If you pass through the application process, you'll be invited into the Astronaut Candidate Program, wherein you'll be trained in really boring stuff like how to operate space stations, build robots, learn the entire Russian language, and fly spaceships. Depending on how well you do with all that jazz determines whether or not NASA actually launches you into space. Even if you didn't learn the Cyrillic alphabet or program Johnny Five as well as your classmates, you'll still earn anywhere from $64,000-141,000 a year to give it a try.
According to NASA, this job posting goes down January 27th, 2012, so get on it, people! Come on Escapists, I know at least one of you has the mettle to be the next Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, or Albert II. But just remember, if one of you does go on to colonize Mars one day, my referral bonus is a palatial estate on the Valles Marineris.
Would you like to know more? Check out NASA's recruitment video above.