Things that disqualify you from being an astronaut

My daughter was told by a friend, that if you’ve ever broken a bone, even your pinky finger, that NASA wouldn’t let you go in space. This sounds kind of silly, on the face of it, and being a good budding young skeptic, she was looking on the NASA site, but couldn’t find anything about broken pinkies. There was some stuff about blood diseases.

Is there anything to this, or is it a silly legend?

From “The Right Stuff”, Deke Slayton had to crash because of a heart problem. One test pilot (Pete Conrad) was dropped because he was “not suited” for long-duration flights. Maybe other motor, pscho- and physiological issues that keep you from combating things like vertigo, prolonged isolation, strains caused by acceleration and decceleration.

Well, that’s just from a semi-fiction novel. Maybe a NASA or airforce doctor can tell us better.

Fear of heights?

bad lower body blood circulation & muscle strength (because you’re meant to use those muscles to push blood back to your brain during high-g maneuvers)
I think it’s because most astronauts go through as fighter/military pilots first, which generally demands better than average visual acuity, no colour blindness, no blood diseases, good blood-oxygen capacity etc…

It’s my understanding there are height minimums and maximums because all the equipment assumes a certain range.

Yeah, might be important for you to actually fit into one of the available sizes of spacesuits.

These days it some things that might have eliminated you in the past (due to the career path incorporating military flight training) are probably OK these days for a “mission specialist” who isn’t expected to fly a space ship.

I thought the spacesuits were custom fit.

I think the qualifying/disqualifying factors will depend on your role. Are you the actual “crew” who will be piloting and operating the space craft. Or, are you a “passenger” such as a scientist or engineer for an experiment? they would probably want a military pilot for the crew as they have to be fully-functional during take-off and reentry. The passengers can pass out and everything will be OK.

I don’t believe the broken bone requirement is true. Things are a lot different now than they were back in the early days of space travel when NASA literally had its pick of thousands of mostly qualified candidates who imply had to ride in a large sardine can and still had to weed almost all of them out some way (I don’t think the broken bone requirement applied to the early days either and I have read every book I could on the subject). We know now that space travel has its risks but doesn’t necessarily require almost superhuman and absolutely perfect physical traits.

Here are the basic requirements that NASA gives for different crew member types. They aren’t all that strict although there are height requirements and a lot of physical conditions like diabetes, heart conditions, and mental disorders that would exclude someone.

The list above doesn’t include everything however. They generally only want people who can pass the equivalent of a 1st class medical certificate like those required for airline pilots. Those requirements are lengthy but still don’t exclude most people who take general care of themselves in terms of weight and fitness and don’t have any hereditary disorders or chronic conditions.

They aren’t really looking for the absolute best physical specimens they can find these days. It is mainly about meeting the basic physical and mental requirements plus the required experience and academic excellence in their field (the latter especially true for mission specialists). It is incredibly competitive to become an astronaut but physical requirements are only the start and you don’t get bonus points for greatly exceeding the basic requirements.

He was indeed bumped in 1962 for that reason. But spaceflight was brand-new then. He would have been America’s second astronaut in orbit, and our fourth in space. The doctors didn’t know what to expect, so they wanted the very best of the very bestest.

But as time went on, the doctors learned the space was not quite as hostile as they feared, and that humans weren’t as fragile as they feared either. And so the happy ending to the story is that Slayton spent 9 days in orbit in 1972 in the Apollo-Soyuz mission.

Then again, given James Irwin’s issues on the way home from the moon it isn’t quite as benign either. That may well have been simple bad luck, but it was close.

I was under the impression that broken bones heal back stronger than before, if properly set.

Probably the least qualified, least fit, astronaut ever.


No less qualified than many other mission specialists and more recent paying tourists, and certainly no less fit than this guy (on his second flight).

Isn’t it likely that some of the original military test pilot astronauts had suffered minor broken bones before their space flights?

(half an hour later)

I looked through the first three astronaut groups on Wikipedia and only found this about Deke Slayton: “A childhood farm equipment accident left him with a severed left ring finger.”

The pre-NASA parts of the Wikipedia biographies are pretty brief though.

Stalking another astronaut disqualifies you no matter what your other outstanding qualifications are.

I think susceptibility to motion sickness would be a primary dis-qualifier. Poor digestion, tendency to flatulence would probably be bad too.

Capsules must smell awful after a few hours. The long duration Gemini and Apollo capsules must have smelled horrific. Nasty bodily accidents must be and actively managed reality in a long duration facility like the Space station. The guy who farts all the time cant be a welcome visitor.

Agoraphobia probably wouldn’t be great either.

Good news for us heavy drinkers.

dislike for Tang.

I get ill riding a carousel with my 2 year old… can i be an astronaut? :smiley: :smack: