How Much Money Does An Astronaut Make?

By on February 8, 2015 in ArticlesHow Much Does

Americans first walked on the Moon in 1969, but the National Aeronautics and Space Administration–better known as NASA–has been in operation since 1958. And the people who have pioneered the U.S. space exploration efforts like the Apollo moon landing missions, have been able to see and experience things most of us never will. That is of course, assuming you don't decide to become an astronaut yourself. So how much money would you make if you actually pulled that off?

NASA has an Astronaut Candidate application that is available to the public, providing you're a U.S. citizen. But there are also International Astronauts from Canada, Japan, Russia, Brazil and Europe–NASA has agreements with those countries.

Nasa/Getty Images

If you are inclined to pursue a career as an astronaut, there are some credentials you can earn to help you achieve the lofty goal. Flying experience, for example; the Astronaut Candidate Program requires either three years of related professional experience, or 1,000 hours of flight time in a jet aircraft. And that's 1,000 hours of actually flying the aircraft, not letting someone else do it for you.

While there's no actual age requirement, most astronauts are between 26 and 46, and average about 34 years of age. There are 43 astronauts currently in the program, and 282 former astronauts in NASA's nearly 57-year history. And yes, you'll need to submit a resume detailing your relevant work experience if you want to be considered for the job.

Salaries for civilian Astronaut Candidates are based upon the Federal Government's General Schedule (GS) pay scale for grades GS-11 through GS-14. While the pay scale can change, currently, a GS-11 starts at $64,724 per year, while a GS-14 can earn up to $141,715 annually. Not a bad chunk of change!


To show how much this scale has changed in just the last five years, back in 2010, a GS-11 started at $50,287 annually; with the potential to make up to about $65,000 a year, while the maximum a GS-14 could earn was $110,104.

Military Astronaut Candidates are detailed to the Johnson Space Center. They'll remain in an active duty status as far as such military matters such as pay, benefits, leave, and related items are concerned.

Although NASA is not currently accepting applications, the agency selected eight Astronaut Candidates from a pool of more than 6,100 back in 2013. The group is undergoing technical training at space centers around the world. This training will prepare them for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars.

Prior to the 2013 class selection, the next most recent group of Astronauts was selected in 2009. The classes tend to be selected every four or five years, so if you're planning on applying, tailor that resume now, so when 2017 hits, you'll be ready to soar to new heights.

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