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I'm not sure this is a good idea

  1. Jun 27, 2012 #1
    My childhood dream was to work for NASA. I was fascinated with being an astronaut and such, you know? Now that I'm starting college and I'm fumbling potential career options in my head, I'm trying to weigh whether or not a NASA career would be a solid choice. I've heard people say that it's not a very wise choice, but none of the arguments have seemed too convincing. What do you think?
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  3. Jun 27, 2012 #2


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    If you want to fly, you probably have to work your way up through the Air Force and get accepted by NASA (not a lot of openings there). If you want to design instruments that can advance our knowledge, you have other options. You could attend U of A Tucson, and perhaps have a hand in instrument design/application. U of A staff and students figure and polish so pretty impressive (large) mirrors and design and build instruments.
  4. Jun 27, 2012 #3
    Well, check out the education/career background of many of the Astronauts to get a better idea of what it would take to become one. If your sights are just set on "working for NASA" then you have more options available to you. Many engineers, physicists, astronomers, and chemists get jobs working for the agency.

    I don't think you should set yourself on working for "NASA" when there are many other similar places that you could work doing similar things. So, in a broad sense, if you want to be a scientist, the outlook is probably pretty good that it is an obtainable goal.
  5. Jun 27, 2012 #4
    Sorry, I guess I wasn't very specific. I'm not entirely positive what I want to do as far as a career, but I do know that it will be science related. My majors are engineering physics, math and computer science, and chemistry, so I'm sure I'll have plenty of options available. Becoming an astronaut isn't so much my goal now as it was when I was younger. I still love the idea of NASA and space exploration, but I'm not sure where or how I'd fit in. Sorry if this topic is all over the place!
  6. Jun 27, 2012 #5


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    It is difficult enough to get to work in a particular field, or career. You now are imposing an even narrower criteria of wanting to work specifically with NASA.

    Furthermore, I don't think you are aware of the fact that many of the NASA projects and missions are administered by other institutions, agencies, etc. In other words, these people are NOT NASA employees. Who do you think built many of the spacecrafts that has been sent out?

  7. Jun 27, 2012 #6
    No, I did not know that many of the NASA projects are administered by other institutions. I'm always looking to be enlightened and find the best in everything, so could you tell me about or link me to information pertaining to these different institutions. Again, it was just a dream I grew up with as a kid. I'm sure there's a multitude of better and more sound options, but I need to find them first.
  8. Jun 27, 2012 #7

    D H

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    NASA doesn't build rockets. They contract that work out. For the most part, NASA doesn't build satellites or payloads, either. Instead it's contracted out. Experiment design? The bulk of operations? A lot of the other technical work? Contracted out. Strictly speaking, even JPL is not NASA. They are a FFRDC that is owned and operated by Cal Tech. There are upsides of working directly for NASA. It is the civil servants who set priority, get to say what (and to some extent how) work will get done, and get to work on the cooler research projects.

    You're still in college. If you want to work for NASA, directly or indirectly, consider a summer internship at either NASA or one of their contractors. Another option is to work on a university-sponsored NASA project. Many schools have these now.
  9. Jun 27, 2012 #8
    That about sums it up for me. Thanks a lot!
  10. Jun 27, 2012 #9
    Actually... What do you mean by FFRDC? I've been looking into Cooperative education through my university and the jet propulsion laboratory.
  11. Jun 27, 2012 #10

    D H

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    Federally Funded Research and Development Center. Here's the master list of all FFRDCs: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf05306/ [Broken]. They can be a nice place to work. You'll need a clearance for most, but not for JPL.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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