The Student Room Group

What grades do I need at GCSE and A levels to become an astronaut?

Also, what A levels do I have to choose? I have chosen maths, physics, chemistry, and biology, but I can change them if I would like to.
Original post by jaspreetb
Also, what A levels do I have to choose? I have chosen maths, physics, chemistry, and biology, but I can change them if I would like to.


Those are fine
You'll probably need a full set of A's and A*s but A levels are far more important, really A's and A*s at that point is very important. GCSES are really about getting where you need to go in terms of college and uni, once you've got a degree that's what people will be looking at. Those a levels are good choices, however you may want to consider further maths instead of biology, it's just something to think about as it's very important for astrophysics which is usually the degree or field you will need to get into if you want to be an astronaut.
Reply 3
Original post by jaspreetb
Also, what A levels do I have to choose? I have chosen maths, physics, chemistry, and biology, but I can change them if I would like to.


If you look back at those that have become astronauts in the past, they are nearly all pilots, and military pilots at that. The reasons for being a pilot are quite obvious - you need to be able to actually fly the equipment, and you need to do that whilst under the effects of gravity which military pilots will have far more experience with. Also, it is generally military pilots who are chosen to become astronauts as they have the security clearance needed for many space programmes which are nearly always carried out by government agencies. Military pilots are the majority of astronauts because they are considered the very best of the best - you wouldn't want anyone less than that in command of the multi-million usually multi-billion dollar equipment.

To become a pilot in the RAF, you can find the minimum requirements on the RAF careers website really easily. They will seem very low, but the training is very challenging and so you would have to question whether meeting those requirements is really enough.

However, as we can see with things Virgin Galactic, space is now becoming a commercial enterprise with commercial personnel. So I suppose it will become more likely for civil pilots to go to space in the future. However, pilot training in the commercial sector costs tens of thousands of pounds, whereas in the military it is free. Also, you cannot be more badass than a fighter pilot (apart from possibly an astronaut).
It depends on what degree you're aiming for, but further maths would probably be useful.

Original post by rosie.mn
it's very important for astrophysics which is usually the degree or field you will need to get into if you want to be an astronaut.

Why astrophysics? It seems an odd choice of degree to become an astronaut. I'd have thought engineering, biology, chemistry or physics would be better.
Original post by Jack98
If you look back at those that have become astronauts in the past, they are nearly all pilots, and military pilots at that. The reasons for being a pilot are quite obvious - you need to be able to actually fly the equipment, and you need to do that whilst under the effects of gravity which military pilots will have far more experience with. Also, it is generally military pilots who are chosen to become astronauts as they have the security clearance needed for many space programmes which are nearly always carried out by government agencies. Military pilots are the majority of astronauts because they are considered the very best of the best - you wouldn't want anyone less than that in command of the multi-million usually multi-billion dollar equipment.

To become a pilot in the RAF, you can find the minimum requirements on the RAF careers website really easily. They will seem very low, but the training is very challenging and so you would have to question whether meeting those requirements is really enough.

However, as we can see with things Virgin Galactic, space is now becoming a commercial enterprise with commercial personnel. So I suppose it will become more likely for civil pilots to go to space in the future. However, pilot training in the commercial sector costs tens of thousands of pounds, whereas in the military it is free. Also, you cannot be more badass than a fighter pilot (apart from possibly an astronaut).


Not entirely true. You don't HAVE to be a pilot to be an astronaut. An astronaut means being able to go in space, pilots manouver the shuttle but there is room for others too. Mission Specialists.
These are the requirements

A bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics, as well as at least three years of related professional experience (graduate work or studies) and an advanced degree, such as a master's degree (one to three years) or a doctoral degree (three years or more).

Applicant's height must be between 4 ft 10.5 in and 6 ft 4 in (1.49 m and 1.93 m).

Original post by morgan8002
It depends on what degree you're aiming for, but further maths would probably be useful.


Why astrophysics? It seems an odd choice of degree to become an astronaut. I'd have thought engineering, biology, chemistry or physics would be better.
chemistry has virtually nothing to do with being an astronaut. You require a degree in a physical science or engineering as a physical science which relates to astrophysics hence it being an appropriate degree. There is no degree in 'astronauting'' therefore you need to select a degree which refers to an area which is the background of the field, so astrophysics is an entirely valid degree.
Technically chemistry is a physical science but honestly probably isn't as an appropriate choice as astronomy, astrophysics or physics in general.
Original post by Username3097486

Applicant's height must be between 4 ft 10.5 in and 6 ft 4 in (1.49 m and 1.93 m).


1.53m to 1.90m
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Astronauts/Astronaut_training_requirements
Original post by rosie.mn
chemistry has virtually nothing to do with being an astronaut. You require a degree in a physical science or engineering as a physical science which relates to astrophysics hence it being an appropriate degree. There is no degree in 'astronauting'' therefore you need to select a degree which refers to an area which is the background of the field, so astrophysics is an entirely valid degree.


They need someone to do the chemistry experiments. There doesn't seem to be any advantage to take astrophysics rather than physics and you're more likely to miss things that you need to learn. I know it's valid, but I don't understand why it "is usually the degree or field you will need to get into if you want to be an astronaut".
Reply 9
So I won't need to take chemistry but I do need to take physics and further/additional mathematics? PLEASE HELP
Reply 10
Original post by Asyirah
So I won't need to take chemistry but I do need to take physics and further/additional mathematics? PLEASE HELP


Take all three. It will help you in the long term. Chemistry is essential for the genral understanding of the sciences overall.
would i be able to become an astronaut just taking maths and physics as a level?
did you ever become an astronaut, or are you still on the path for it?
Original post by justharryl
did you ever become an astronaut, or are you still on the path for it?

If they were had yet to pick AL subjects 6 years ago, they will still be on the path to it. 2 years AL + 3 years bachelors + 1 year Masters + 3 years professional experience.

Source: European Space Agency - Astronaut selection 2021-22 FAQs

"What qualifications are needed to apply?
Applicants must have a minimum of a Master’s degree from a recognised academic institution in natural sciences (including physical sciences; Earth, atmosphere or ocean sciences; biological sciences), medicine, engineering or mathematics/computer sciences, with at least three years of professional experience after graduation."

Quick Reply