Wanted: Astronauts for NASA

Last Updated: Thu, Sep 08, 2011 06:40 hrs

A new report has said the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) needs to hire more astronauts for undertaking further spaceflight missions.

NASA has 59 astronauts currently on the roll, out of which half-dozen are expected to leave before the end of this year, the Washington Post reports.

A National Research Council report warned that "the Astronaut Corps appears to be sized below the minimum required" and that the current number "poses a risk to the U.S. investment in human spaceflight capabilities."

Though the report did not specify the exact number of astronauts required by NASA but predicted that extensive training, non-spaceflight tasks and the medical issues pertaining to long space station duties, could lead to astronaut shortages within five years.

"New astronauts are needed in the pipeline. It takes quite a while to train people for human spaceflight." former space shuttle launch director Wayne Hale said.

Stressing on recruitment of more astronauts, the reports pointed out that they often undertake successive space missions only after three year gap, when they completely recover from lost bone mass.

Also, the report pointed out that seven astronauts had developed a vision problem, papilledema in the past that disqualified them from undertaking further spaceflight until the problem was resolved.

A NASA spokesperson Michael Curie said the report "offers helpful advice about the appropriate size of our astronaut corps as we enter this exciting new era of space exploration and crew transport operations."

NASA is expected to hire nine astronauts in 2012 and six in 2014, according to Astronaut Office Chief, Peggy Whitson.(ANI)

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