How much NASA pays astronauts who risk their lives to explore space
  • SpaceX is set to release its first human passengers and assist NASA resurrect American crewed spaceflight.
  • The check flight, referred to as Demo-2, will fly NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on an area project that can last as long as 110 days.
  • Astronauts’ annual salaries are made up our minds the use of a central authority pay scale, and beginning out, usually fall below two grades: GS-12 and GS-13.
  • In accordance the United States govt’s 2020 pay scales and a NASA process checklist, an astronaut in 2020 earns between $66,167 and $161,141 in keeping with yr.
  • Discuss with Industry Insider’s homepage for extra tales.

The instant that SpaceX founder Elon Musk has dreamed about since 2002 (and in all probability lengthy ahead of then) is nearly right here: the rocket corporate’s first-ever release of folks into area.

The economic project, referred to as Demo-2, is designed to turn NASA that SpaceX’s new Team Dragon spaceship is protected to fly passengers. NASA misplaced its skill to release astronauts when it ended the gap commute program in July 2011. Since then, the company has trusted Russia for journeys to and from the Global House Station, into which the United States has invested about $100 billion. 

Veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will pilot SpaceX’s Demo-2 project, which is recently scheduled to release at four:33 p.m. ET on Might 27, or round the similar time on Might 30 if there is a extend.

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley (left) and Robert Behnken get ready to fly to Kennedy House Middle in Florida on Might 20, 2020, in preparation for SpaceX’s Demo-2 project.

James Blair/NASA

Turning into an astronaut isn’t simple. Candidates will have to be a US citizen, have an authorized faculty stage in science, engineering, or arithmetic, and 3 years of professional revel in or 1,000 hours piloting a jet plane below their belts. Additionally they wish to come supplied with specialised abilities and techniques of pondering that interviewers — typically astronauts themselves — display screen for.

Additionally they must cross a grueling variety procedure this is about 74 occasions more difficult than coming into Harvard College. NASA selects a brand new astronaut magnificence as soon as each couple of years, and picked best 12 of 18,300 candidates in 2017. The company closed programs for its subsequent magnificence on the finish of March.

So how a lot does NASA compensate its astronauts for his or her revel in, intensive coaching, and willingness to possibility their lives to discover area — together with for firms like SpaceX?

In step with a continuously requested questions web page on NASA’s web site, the once a year wage is “in accordance with the Federal Executive’s Normal Time table pay scale for grades GS-12 via GS-13.”

“Every particular person’s grade is made up our minds in keeping with his/her educational achievements and revel in,” NASA provides.

Such grades are used to decide how a lot white-collar occupation staff are paid throughout many govt companies, and they’re additional damaged down into steps starting from 1 via 10, that are in accordance with appropriate efficiency and years of carrier.

The USA Place of job of Group of workers Control is in command of the base pay and go away figures, and the numbers alternate each and every yr.

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NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins in a spacesuit out of doors the Global House Station. On the time this picture was once taken, on Dec. 24, 2013, probably the most wage an astronaut may earn was once $93,175 in keeping with yr.


In 2020, in keeping with OPM pay scales, a brand new astronaut with a GS-12 grade and Step 1 revel in and function would earn $66,167 in keeping with yr. After a number of years of very good efficiency, the similar astronaut could be eligible to make the GS-12’s Step 10 pay: $86,021 in keeping with yr.

In the meantime, more-qualified astronauts with a GS-13 pay grade may first of all earn $78,681 in keeping with yr (Step 1) and, after a number of years, as much as $102,288 in keeping with yr (Step 10).

However astronauts are not locked into GS-12 and GS-13 for his or her careers; they are able to earn the highest tier of the pay scale — GS-15 Step 10 — and upward of $142,000 in keeping with yr, relying on their place, obligations, and function throughout the astronaut corp.

“When a civilian is chosen for the Astronaut Program, his/her grade would possibly first of all be on the GS12/13 degree, even supposing some are upper,” William “Invoice” McArthur, a former astronaut, advised Industry Insider in an e-mail in February 2018. “Whilst an energetic astronaut, from 2001 till 2007, I used to be on the most sensible of the [Civil] Provider grade scale.”

Additionally, the basic agenda is best the basis for pay: There also are tables that replicate earning in several spaces, serving to the United States govt be offering aggressive salaries for a given area. In Houston, Texas, as an example — the place astronauts base themselves out of Johnson House Middle — localized pay tables name for annual wages which are about 30% upper than the overall agenda.

In NASA’s most up-to-date name for applicants, the indexed wage vary of $104,898 to $161,141 in keeping with yr exceeded that of the overall agenda.

This tale has been up to date with new data. It was once at first printed on February 19, 2018.


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