How much does an astronaut earn? – Digital Look

The dream of many children is to be an astronaut. Perhaps as a result of the intense space race of the second half of the last century, the fact is that the figure of the man in the mirrored helmet is part of the common imagination and the idea of ​​working exploring the universe always sounds fascinating. But putting aside science fiction movie concepts, how much does an astronaut earn to risk his life in space launches?

The answer to this question, of course, is not simple. Also because the work of an astronaut varies a lot and also the agency to which he responds and the time of operation. It is even more difficult to become an astronaut, since there are not many vacancies and it is a very competitive market, but we will explain this later.


To make things easier, let’s take NASA as a base. The United States Space Agency, as a public body, always discloses expenses and salaries with the space team. In the case of Roscosmos, Russia and the National Space Administration of China, this information is a little scarcer.

Astronaut Bruce McCandless on a spacewalk without an umbilical cord in 1984
Astronaut Bruce McCandless on a spacewalk without an umbilical cord in 1984. Credits: NASA

How much does a NASA astronaut earn?

In practice, NASA reports that a novice astronaut, who has just been recruited, earns an average of US$ 66,000 a year, which is just over R$ 320,000 or something in the range of R$ 26,000 per month. However, professionals with more experience can earn much more.

Most NASA astronauts are at the company’s GS-12 and GS-13 levels. An early GS-12 gets the $66,000 a year. After a few years, he levels up, still in the same category, and in the last phase of the GS-12 he can earn $86,000 a year. This, of course, depends on the length of service and performance of the professional.

These are not the last levels yet. After a few years, the professional can go to step 1 of the GS-13 level and earn $78,000 a year. The final phase of the GS-13 boasts the highest salary an astronaut earns, at a staggering $102,000. A very hefty salary, but one that is very difficult to achieve. These amounts are not exclusive to NASA and are part of the US Government’s scale to pay public servants.

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How to become an astronaut?

In fact, being an astronaut is already very difficult. At NASA, there is a very competitive contest and, although there is no mandatory academic training, professionals usually have training in the areas of physics, engineering or astronomy. The selection process is considered to be about 74 times more difficult than that of Harvard University and happens once every two years. That is, if you intend to try to be an astronaut, it is good to prepare a lot.

The number of successful candidates is also very low. In 2017, for example, the season’s astronaut class was formed by just 12 of the 18,300 candidates. Remembering that the company’s astronauts do not only work on missions led by NASA itself, but also by outsourced companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin.

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