How Much Money Do Astronauts Make?

Apart from wanting to be a firefighter, a police officer, or a specialist, numerous children fantasize about becoming an astronaut. The real-life superhero in the world is an astronaut. They are among the most remarkable individuals in the world since they explore faraway planets, travel about in spacecraft, and generally do amazing things. Who among us didn’t, as a child, imagine themselves as astronauts? Unfortunately, most of us will never be astronauts since the process is challenging. You should first be able to meet all the requirements to turn into a candidate for being an astronaut. 

After being chosen, you should finish two years of relevant professional experience, like at least 1000 hours of experience as the commanding pilot of a jet aircraft. However, you must pass NASA’s notoriously rigorous physical test. Your resume needs to be extremely excellent if you want to get admitted into the NASA space program. Even then, you might never be able to take off. It does not mean it is an unrealistic dream. The income of an astronaut regularly reflects the persistence and responsibility it takes to oversee it. So, how much money do astronauts make?

Image Source: Canva

Image Source: Canva

So far, 567 individuals have entered space; 503 were male, and 64 were women. Peggy Whitson held the record for a woman’s longest single space flight at 289 days. It was broken by Christine Koch’s flight that lasted an impressive 328 days. In 1959, NASA hired its first crew of astronauts. Seven men, known as the Mercury 7, were chosen from 500 applications to become the first American astronauts. These candidates were first selected based on their flight experience, engineering education, and height. These guys had to be under 5 feet, 11 inches owing to the size of the Mercury spacecraft.

Space traveler positions are exceptionally searched for, and just a couple of positions are accessible to individuals who meet the physical capabilities and are profoundly qualified. The compensation of income of an astronaut will rely upon their work status in the military or their experience as a civilian astronaut. If you are keen on becoming an astronaut and want a precise idea of your income and capabilities, it is helpful to investigate pay rates.

Let us look into what it takes to be an astronaut and how much one earns.

How To Become An Astronaut?

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Image Source: Canva

As NASA keeps extending a human investigation into the planets around us and beyond, they will require more than the presently dynamic team of astronauts to crew spacecraft bound for numerous profound space destinations. The qualifications for astronauts are comparable throughout space agencies.

But once again, meeting those standards is insufficient. Since they can only send the best and the brightest, the astronaut applicant selection process is passionately competitive. For many people, it is even their dream profession. However, general and specialized training programs must be completed by those applicants.

NASA’s astronauts presently function as researchers on the International Space Station—a lab that circles Earth at around 240 miles over the planet’s surface. Astronauts on the station lead logical tests, for example, innovative cancer research and research on the human body and how it can survive in space.

The organization’s business accomplices are starting to ship freight from Earth to the space station, soon dispatching astronauts to and from the station too. New space travelers will crew these missions and back scientific research on the station.


NASA Qualification Required:

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Image Source: Canva

NASA’s goals and tasks have changed the requirements to become an astronaut. To be acknowledged as a candidate for an astronaut position today, applicants need to meet the following qualifications:

  • They have to be a citizen of the United States
  • They need a master’s degree in a STEM field from a certified university/college. The STEM field degree can include engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics.
  • They need to possess a professional experience (related to the space field) of at least two years that they need to acquire after completing their degree.
  • If not a related professional experience, they should at least have 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft.
  • They should be able to pass the NASA long-duration flight astronaut physical examination.

The requirement for a master’s degree can also be met by:

  • Two years (equivalent to 36 semesters or 54 quarter hours) worth of work toward a doctoral program in a science, technology, engineering, or math field.
  • A completed degree in Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.
  • Completing or being enrolled in (during the time of application) a nationally recognized test pilot school program.

Skills that astronauts need

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Image Source: Canva

Astronauts require a range of skills to succeed in their jobs. Some skills they should have are:

Modern Intelligence

Astronauts need more than just a college degree and general intellect for success. To handle and solve complicated, sudden situations.


Astronauts should be able to adjust when switching from one activity to another. They must be prepared to adapt to newly imposed policies and standards. They collaborate with experts from various industries and nations in their place of employment; thus, they must have no trouble adjusting to new situations and customs.

Mental endurance

Astronauts may have to share a space with others and spend a lot of time away from their families for several months. They should be of sound mind and capable of handling the difficulties they could encounter in their employment, such as isolation and fear. 

Physical stamina

Astronauts are needed to clear spaceflight physical fitness tests. They must also complete a military water survival exam, which estimates their capacity to swim a particular distance without stopping and tread water while dressing in flying gear. SCUBA certification is also required for astronauts to prepare for underwater spacewalk training. Their body must adapt appropriately to the various atmospheric pressures they will experience. Additionally, they must be ready for the impacts of zero gravity

Critical-thinking skills

Astronauts have challenging tasks to tackle. They must carefully and critically review their work and that of others to ensure that each assignment is carried out as studied.


When astronauts travel to space, they must have the self-control to work independently on the space station, and do their assigned responsibilities on time.

It is essential for applicants for an astronaut position also to have abilities in administration, collaboration, and correspondence. NASA’s Astronaut Selection Board audits the applications and surveys every candidate’s capabilities. In 2016, NASA received a record-breaking 18,300 applications. The board, at that point, calls in a small group of the most exceptionally qualified contenders for interviews at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Out of those candidates who are interviewed, about half are called back for second meetings. NASA’s new candidates for becoming an astronaut are chosen from that second group of contenders. They report for training at Johnson and go through the following two years, learning fundamental skills that an astronaut needs, like spacewalking, working the space station, flying T-38 jet planes, and controlling a robotic arm.

How Much Does An Astronaut Suit Cost?

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Image Source: Canva

NASA has just 11 space suits that are being used, and they were designed many years back. Pablo de Leon, who created these space suits almost forty years before, states that the deficiency of proper space suits influences activities in space. According to him, these space suits were designed in the 1970s and intended to last only 15 years. Experts thought that by the 1990s, the spacesuits would have been substituted for something different.

However, what happened was that there were never enough funds to make another spacesuit system. The expense of making a spacesuit was initially about $22 million. Building one without any preparation and from scratch in this day and age can be as much as $250 million.

NASA VS. SpaceX Salary Comparison

Following is the salary comparison of NASA and SpaceX



Glassdoor estimates show an entry-level astronaut’s starting salary is around $1000,000 yearly. This number can increase significantly with more authority and responsibility. SpaceX offers a beginning salary ranging from $120,000 to $200,000/yr based on experience level and other considerations.
Astronauts with more than ten years of space industry expertise can make six figures. SpaceX gives $166,000/yr to more than ten years of an experienced engineer.

Salary In Different Countries

salary of astronauts in different countries

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A high-flying career always pays well. Unique skills can cost thousands or even millions of dollars annually on Earth. Following are the salaries given to the astronauts from different countries.


At the beginning of their careers, civilian astronauts make $4.500 – $5,000 a month, while astronauts who joined the Air Force may expect to start at a rate of GS 13 and above.


An astronaut candidate at Roscosmos makes around $1,200, a test astronaut makes $1,300, and an instructor astronaut makes $1,800. Although this is a small amount, there are monthly allowances of up to 25% of the thirteenth salary and additional payments for the duration of service.


To join the astronaut corps, applicants typically earn a salary of A2 (about 60 thousand euros per year). After completing the foundational training well, the astronauts advance to level A3 (70-75 thousand euros). Upgrading to the A4 (equals 85 thousand euros) frequently occurs after the first space flight.


In Canada, the Canadian Space Agency is responsible for hiring astronauts. Similar to ESA, a three-level compensation system that ranges from 53 to 91 thousand US dollars exists. Level 2 is the next step for astronaut candidates after they complete their basic training, which takes two years, and their pay raise with experience. 


Rakesh Sharma was the only astronaut from India in 1984, and his mission was a part of the Soviet Soyuz T11 expedition. However, ISRO needs additional specialists, typically paid between 40,000 and 80,000 rupees (500 and 1100 dollars) monthly. Additionally, employees are given housing, child tuition costs, pensions, and other perks.


According to the National Career Service, future British astronauts will get salaries ranging from 40(beginning) to 86 thousand pounds(experienced). In the interim, as an ESA member nation, British nationals can make up a team of ESA astronauts and get paid based on the Coordinating Organisations to the salary scale.

Highest Astronaut Salaries

Country/Space Organization

Starter, salary/year (USD)

Highly skilled, salary/year (USD)

USA/NASA 57 983 146 757
Europe/ESA 64 200 91 000
Canada/CSA 53 000 91 000
RF/Roscosmos 15 600 21 600 + bonuses
UK/UKSA 49 200 105 780
India/ISRO 6 000 13 200
China/CSNA 20 750 35 325

How Much Does An Astronaut Make Yearly?

Civilians’ annual income:

How much do astronauts make a year? Before applying for a position as an astronaut, many people question: how much does an astronaut make yearly? As indicated by NASA, civilian astronauts are granted a compensation evaluation of any place from GS-11 to GS-14, so the income range is moderately broad. Starting NASA, salaries for astronauts can be over $66,000 per year. However, an experienced astronaut’s NASA salary can be approximately $144,566 annually.

astronauts make in a year

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Military annual income:

However, numerous selected astronauts have a military background, and like anybody in the military, they are granted a pay grade depending upon their deployment status. A colonel or chief, for instance, is dispatched at an O-6 pay grade. They would acquire $8,030 monthly or $96,360 annually following eight years of military service. Ten years of military service bring a compensation of $8,073 per month, or $96,876 per year, while 20 years expand the pay to $10,295 monthly or $123,540 yearly.

With the position of brigadier general, astronauts are dispatched at an O-7 pay grade. Following eight years of service in the military, they would gain $9,906 every month, or $118,872 per year. At ten years of active duty, the pay increments to $10,212 monthly, or $112,544 annually. With 20 years of service in the military, a military astronaut’s (brigadier general) pay is $12,591 per month or $151,092 annually.

Do Astronauts Get Paid For Life?

do astronauts get paid for life

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The NASA astronaut corps is a blend of civilians and well-trained military officials. So what happens when they leave initially depends upon which camps they fit into. Suppose they are active duty military and never exactly resigned from the army before leaving their astronaut position at NASA. In that case, they will go on to do whatever task the military wishes to give them. Astronauts not actively serving in the military at the hour of retirement from the Astronaut Office tend to proceed to executive roles in the avionic business. Corporate space organizations frequently employ space travelers for their immense experience and the organization of contacts that they can give.

 Moreover, once they retire from their position as an astronaut, they can pursue other careers, like becoming a politician or doing anything else they like. However, the take-home message is that astronauts are not paid for life. It does not mean that they stop earning altogether. They will still get paid, but according to the position and the duties they will acquire after they retire from being an astronaut. NASA astronaut salary is $104,898 per year. Primarily people asked questions like how much astronauts get paid; It is between $104,898 to $161,141 per year.

How Much Do SpaceX Astronauts Make?

how much do spacex astronauts make

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The mean salary of Spacex astronauts is $91,202 a year. The range of wages at Spacex is from $64,642 to $125,306 per year.


frequently asked questions about astronauts

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How much do astronauts get paid?

As of 2019, astronauts in the United States receive a base salary in NASA of $86,000 annually. However, their total compensation can be much higher due to bonuses and other factors. For example, those with flight experience and hazardous duty pay can earn up to $180,000 annually.


How much can US astronauts earn working for NASA and risking their lives to explore space?

In 1963, Congress established that astronauts would be paid at a rate equal to what military pilots with similar experience and training were earning, about $8,330 per year in today’s dollars. But by 1969, when Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, NASA was paying its astronauts $17,000 annually.

In 1999, Congress decided that astronaut pay should be linked to the payment of senior executives at federal agencies and set the annual salary for astronauts at $141,715. But in 2013, with sequestration looming, NASA cut astronaut pay by 5 percent across the board. Today, an astronaut’s base pay starts at $66,167 per year.

An experienced astronaut can earn up to $277,165 annually with bonuses and allowances. But for some people, the rewards of being an astronaut go far beyond the paycheck.

What is an astronaut?

An astronaut is a person who has been trained by a human spaceflight program to operate spacecraft and perform associated tasks. Astronauts have also been called cosmonauts, spacemen, or simply astronauts. The first astronaut was Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union, who became the first man in space in 1961.

What are the basic requirements to become an astronaut?

You’ll need to meet a few basic requirements to become an astronaut. First, you must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, math, or science. You’ll also need to have at least three years of professional experience. And finally, you’ll need to pass a physical exam.

What Are the Yearly Wages of a NASA Astronaut?

As of 2019, a NASA astronaut’s annual salary is $86,000. However, this is just the base salary and does not include any additional income from speaking engagements or other outside work. Astronauts also receive a per diem allowance of $3 per day while on assignment away from their home base.

How Much Were the First Astronauts Paid?

The first American astronauts were paid very well for their groundbreaking work. They were some of the highest-paid government employees at the time.

Each of the original seven astronauts earned a salary of $8,000 per year. That may not sound much by today’s standards, but it was an excellent salary.


Astronauts make as much money as highly esteemed professionals (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.). However, one must have a lot of mental strength and physical capabilities to become one. Now that you have read the things required to become an astronaut in detail, you can see whether you fit those criteria and whether this job suits you.

The salary of Nasa Astronauts in the US ranges from $24,079 to $640,817.