International Space Station
• Astronaut Selection
– ~ 3000-4000 applications reviewed every other
year- Next one will begin July 2007.
– 100-120 brought to Houston for physical exam,
psychological screening and an Astronaut
Selection Board interview
• Astronaut Selection Board determines skills needed for
Pilots, Mission Specialists, & Educators
– 11- 25 are selected
• Some applicants have returned for interviews 5 times
before being selected
– Those selected undergo 2 years of Astronaut
Candidate (ASCAN) training then are ready for
technical assignment and flight assignment
• Psychological/psychiatric portion of
– Select-out (psychopathology)
• Psychological Testing
• 3 hour semi-structured interview with psychiatrist
• Results go to Aerospace Medicine Board for
Qualified / Disqualified decision
– Select-in (suitability for long-term missions)
• Psychological Testing
• 2 hour semi-structured interview with psychologist
• Results go to Astronaut Selection Board
Long Duration Missions
• Critical proficiencies
– Mental/emotional stability
– Ability to perform under stressful conditions
– Group living skills
– Teamwork skills
– Ability to cope with prolonged family separations
– Judgment/Decision Making
– Communication skills
– Leadership capability
• Santy, P.A. Choosing the Right Stuff: the
Psychological Selection of Astronauts and
Cosmonauts. Praeger Publishing, Westport, CT.
More Psychological Characteristics
• Focus on team
• Group living skills
• Leadership and ability to follow
• Look out for themselves (self-care, self-
• Able to throttle back & keep an even pace
• Cross-culturally aware
• Adapt well to other cultures
Big Five Personality Factors
• Extraversion (sometimes called Surgency). The broad dimension of
Extraversion encompasses such more specific traits as talkative, energetic,
• Agreeableness. This dimension includes traits like sympathetic, kind, and
• Conscientiousness. People high in Conscientiousness tend to be
organized, thorough, and planful.
• Neuroticism (sometimes reversed and called Emotional Stability).
Neuroticism is characterized by traits like tense, moody, and anxious.
• Openness to Experience (sometimes called Intellect or
Intellect/Imagination). This dimension includes having wide interests, and
being imaginative and insightful.
• Short Form
• Long Form
What To Do Next
• Discuss in group what makes a good astronaut
• Write down important characteristics
• Each group member should take short form of NEO-PI-R
– Note: Your group members will see your results. Therefore,
create a fictitious personality you would like to project to the
group before you answer the questions. Then use your
description of your new personality when you answer questions.
This is for confidentiality purposes.
• Look at each others’ results and decide which profile will
fit the astronaut selection criteria the most.
– Outside of class: remember that personalities are fictitiously
created. Do not judge classmates on their results, because they
did not answer questions based on their own personalities.