"The fact that I've applied 15 times to become an astronaut has not escaped my friends, supporters, or fans," astronaut Clay Anderson wrote in his autobiography "Ordinary Spaceman." For him, the 16th time was the charm. Anderson was finally selected in 1998 for NASA's astronaut training program. Born in Nebraska, he wanted to become a space traveler since he was five years old [source: Anderson]
Many people feel the irresistible charm of the cosmos. And just like Anderson, countless people have longed to become astronauts at some point in our lives. And yet so few people make the cut. Only about 550 people have ever traveled to space [source: Brown].
That's a small number. For comparison, the average American high school has a student body of 752 students [source: National Center for Educational Statistics]
To live the dream and join the ranks of space travelers, astronauts must overcome enormous obstacles. Emerging space travelers swim in heavy aircraft, resist obnoxious test flights and fight the strangest toilets. Ah, but for those who make it through the training process, the rewards can be fantastic.
So, if you feel like throwing your hat in the ring, when NASA next issue a search ad for new astronauts, here's a few things you might want to know. (And a few fun trivia for good measure.)