View Full Version : What do astonauts earn?
01-08-2001, 02:28 PM
or cosmonauts? Are they paid at a base rate? Do the collect hazard pay or overtime pay for going to space. Do the spouses collect a weekly check or a lump sum when the astronaut gets back? Is insurance available, and does NASA pay for it? Little minds want to know.
01-08-2001, 03:08 PM
According to http://www.aeac.net/table/airsalry.htm the average salary of an astronaut is $42,000 to $80,000. And it also states that an advanced degree in a science field is required.
Looking at http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/academy/astronauts/wannabe.html the starting salary is $38,000 and tops off at $78,000.
From http://www.ehow.com/eHow/eHow/0,1053,11171,FF.html they state that "Astronauts earn between $40,000 and $82,000 a year, based on the civil service pay scale GS-11 to GS-14." They also say, "Expect to have all basic benefits provided if you are an astronaut. You can also expect to have little time for a personal life during your training, and prior to a mission"
01-08-2001, 03:34 PM
according to http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/ask/a11593.html (Dr. Sten Odenwald, NASA astronomer - not an astronaut)...$70,000 - $120,000/year
01-08-2001, 03:37 PM
The sky's the limit.
01-08-2001, 06:10 PM
I think most of these guys (and gals) come from the military, or at least they used to. Not sure how it is nowadays (50/50 civilian/military?)... What I'm not sure of is whether or not they stay active duty military (I'm in the mil. but have no clue) while being an astronaut...
If they do, then their pay is pretty subjective, whether you want to view it in terms of base pay (which doesn't really tell you much, cause there's a lot more $$, e.g., flight pay, haz. duty pay, bas, bah (food/housing allowances), plus bonuses (10-20k per year possibly)), net pay, before taxes, etc., and we haven't even started talking about perks (insurance, retirement, health care, gym, commissary, etc.) and their $$ worth.
These guys are pretty high-ranking, so I'd guess 80-100k at the very least, taking all of the above into consideration. Of course, if they're no longer active duty military when they're also an astronaut, then I have no clue, and disregard all the above.
01-08-2001, 06:56 PM
Thanks for the links.
If they are civilians, their base pay depends mainly on their level (e.g., GS-14) and "step" (each GS level has 10 steps). Their GS level and step depend on their job and their past earnings history. It's complicated. However, I would guess that a civilian astronaut, by the time she gets into space, might be someone who with an advanced degree in engineering or science and five or ten years government employment. A GS-14 in Orlando, FL gets $72,990 at step 1 and maxes out at $94,888 at step 10. I assume civilian astronauts get bonuses of some kind such as hazardous duty or flight pay.
If they are military, their base pay depends on their rank and years of service. I would guess that a military astronaut, by the time she gets into space, might be an O-5 (army, marine, or air force lieutenant colonel equivalent to navy commander) with 10 years active duty for which she would get a base pay of $55,012, plus a tax-free subsistence allowance of $1925 and a Basic Allowance for Housing of $12084 without dependents (or $15984 with dependents) if she lived in ZIP 32830 (someplace in Orlando, FL). I would expect such a person to be eligible for bonuses as well.
Comparing pay is complicated because of the differences in health care benefits and retirement plans between the civil service, the military, and private industry.
01-08-2001, 08:01 PM
Funny, I thought it averaged to about $10/minute.
"Do the spouses collect a weekly check or a lump sum when the astronaut gets back?"
Civil servants are paid every two weeks. Military are paid once a month. I thinK both military and civil servants are strongly encouraged to have their paychecks deposited directly into their bank accounts by EFT.
"Is insurance available, and does NASA pay for it?" If they are military, I would think they can participate in the SGLI buying a maximum of $200,000 in life insurance for $204 per year. I don't know if the government offers military astronauts or civilian astronauts additional life insurance. Of course, it never makes sense for the government to buy insurance; the government self insures, so that if astronauts are eligible for additional "insurance" it is really more of a expanded death benefit.
Man think of the Frequent flyer perks for them guys!
01-08-2001, 09:58 PM
Active Duty military get paid twice a month for Navy and Marines; IIRC, Army and Air Force personnel have the option of twice a month pay. Retired military, such as I, get paid once a month.
01-09-2001, 06:22 AM
What I want is the 31 cents a mile travel pay. (or whatever it is these days)
01-09-2001, 03:56 PM
Wow. Would any private life insurance company (short of Lloyd's) insure an astronaut?
01-09-2001, 05:24 PM
Someone asked that exact question in 2000.
01-09-2001, 06:38 PM
I think Astronaut pay used to be even less, in constant dollars. Many of the perks that they got were semi-official donations, like for example the black Corvettes that Chevrolet gave most of them.
If one is to believe Tom Wolfe's account of the second Mercury mission, Gus Grissom packed several pounds of coins in the personal pockets of his watertight space suit with the hope of later selling them off as money that had traveled into space. He didn't have a lot of money to spare, which is one reason why he didn't take bills.
Then, he forgot to close the watertight seals on his suit. Then, the hatch "just blew" on his spacecraft after touchdown and started sinking. Then, the helicopter tried to recover the spacecraft instead of Gus, who had suddenly discovered that his buoyant suit wasn't and furthermore was weighed down by a bunch of coins. His waves to the helicopter were interpreted as a signal to go ahead and leave him.... He survived, only to die in Apollo 1, a craft so flawed he once hung a lemon on the dashboard.
Hard luck Gus. You gotta love the guy, rest his soul.
vBulletin® v3.7.3, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.