NASA Requiring All Space Cadets to Speak Russian

space cadets
In early November, NASA will seek applicants for its next class of astronaut candidates, hoping to bolster its reserves of brave spacemen -- in the face of a National Research Council report that warned the corps was getting too small.

"For scientists, engineers and other professionals who have always dreamed of experiencing spaceflight, this is an exciting time to join the astronaut corps," said Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

And rocket scientists aren't the only ones who can apply.

A bachelor's degree in engineering, science or math and three years of relevant professional experience are all that's required in order to be considered. Typically, successful applicants have significant qualifications in engineering or science, or extensive experience flying high-performance jet-aircraft, NASA said.

Don't get too excited just yet, however: The space agency won't be seeking hundreds of new astronauts. There will be room for only around 8 to 12, Duane Ross, manager for astronaut candidate training, told

"The number is one of those things you don't decide on until the very end," Ross cautioned, noting that "the number will be small -- last time we picked nine."

This class of astronauts won't necessarily be training as pilots, either, though some will certainly go through such training. The focus will instead be on long-duration missions aboard the International Space Station.

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