Best Branch For Space Focused Career

123489

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Nov 29, 2016
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I am currently a junior in high school and believe that I would like to pursue a career focused within space. I have always been extremely interested and fascinated in space and think it would be an amazing field to work in. If I were to major in aerospace or astronautical engineering which service academy would have the most "space" based options after graduation?
 

Capt MJ

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While waiting for more detailed replies, if you haven't already done so, read every page, drop down and link on USNA, USAFA and other SA websites to read about career options.

Google "(Service) Officer career paths" to research the general officer career descriptions. Ditto approach with other services.

Google "(Service) ROTC officer career paths" for a parallel research effort. Most SA applicants also apply for ROTC scholarships, if their goal is to serve as a commissioned officer, so as to expand the options to pursue that.
 

123489

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Nov 29, 2016
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While waiting for more detailed replies, if you haven't already done so, read every page, drop down and link on USNA, USAFA and other SA websites to read about career options.

Google "(Service) Officer career paths" to research the general officer career descriptions. Ditto approach with other services.

Google "(Service) ROTC officer career paths" for a parallel research effort. Most SA applicants also apply for ROTC scholarships, if their goal is to serve as a commissioned officer, so as to expand the options to pursue that.
Thank you Capt MJ. I have already done some research and can only find information on space careers for the Air Force. Just wanted to know if the other branches also offered careers within space. I'll continue researching and make sure I'm not missing something.
 

Capt MJ

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A backward research method is to look at currently serving astronauts from military backgrounds and their bios, which gives you an idea of their career paths. Many Navy and Marine pilots head to NASA via an aviation and test pilot career. That's if you're interested in careers "in" space.

Google "Air Force Officer space careers," and you will see quite a lot of info. My sense is you will find a more formal career path for all aspects of space ops in the AF. Try that with the other services - here's a sample from Navy.
http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/officer/Detailing/spacecadre/Documents/Space Cadre Leadership Who's Who 7 Jan 15.docx

The key will be what is available as a choice for your officer specialty out of your commissioning source.

I am sure others with current experience or knowledge will post.

Don't overlook attending a civilian engineering school and working for NASA as a civilian. NASA has interesting internships and programs designed to attract engineers. Google "NASA Recent Graduates programs."

With any uniformed option, your role as an officer and leader comes first. Your major will give you the technical background to underwrite your leadership skills in various mission areas.

Good that you are researching now.
 

LineInTheSand

USCGA 2006
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I'd say the Coast Guard is likely the worst branch for space (understanding that CGA has produced two astronauts).
 

conrack

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The Air Force has the most space related jobs so that might be the best path. As for becoming an astronaut understand the odds are incredibly long, the last NASA class has 12 people who were selected from over 4,000 applicants and just to apply you have to be an MD, PhD or aviator with test pilot experience.
 

123489

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The Air Force has the most space related jobs so that might be the best path. As for becoming an astronaut understand the odds are incredibly long, the last NASA class has 12 people who were selected from over 4,000 applicants and just to apply you have to be an MD, PhD or aviator with test pilot experience.
Not trying to become an astronaut, I understand how slim those odds are. I meant more like a "space engineer." Although being an astronaut would be a sweet job.....
 

MabryPsyD

Dr. G.
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The Air Force has the most space related jobs so that might be the best path. As for becoming an astronaut understand the odds are incredibly long, the last NASA class has 12 people who were selected from over 4,000 applicants and just to apply you have to be an MD, PhD or aviator with test pilot experience.
That's incorrect. If you're AD, you must receive a nomination from your branch of service to represent the (insert branch) to NASA. Reserve and Guard apply with the civilians. Each branch has a specific criteria to earn the nomination. You just need a BS in a specific degree to apply. Aviation experience isn't required. Actually, aviation type degrees are discouraged and don't meet the requirements for applying to NASA. Obviously the more education and experience you have, the more competitive you are for selection(s).

Side note: People are mapping their entire careers based on the information on this site. Please don't present opinions as facts or at least make a clear distinction between rumor, opinion, and facts. Just a pet peeve of mine.
 

conrack

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I stand semi-corrected. I should have said "you have no chance without...." I know of no recent astronaut selectees that did not have the aforementioned qualifications.
 

USAFA10s

USAFA Class of 2012 Kirtland, AFB
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I'd say I am fairly familiar with how the AF is involved in space. There are lots of jobs that are related to space, but you should be aware that as an Air Force officer, your role beyond the rank of lieutenant will primarily be management of programs. There are exceptions where you get to manage AND do some science, but they are fairly rare and definitely challenging. It really depends on what you want to do. If running satellite ops, running a team developing new space technology or using satellites for intelligence purposes are your areas of interest, then the AF is the right choice. If you want to be on the front lines doing the tough science/actually engineering rather than coordinating, communicating, deciding and leading, then you should probably go another route, like NASA. I work with a number of people in the space af community, so if you have more specific questions let me know
 
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