Japan is recruiting the first new astronauts in 13 years

It’s one small step for Japan, but one giant opportunity for being space cadets: the country is recruiting new astronauts for the first time in more than a decade and candidates no longer have to have a science degree.

Women are strongly encouraged to volunteer for the job, said the Japan Aerospace Research Agency (JAXA), as all seven of the nation’s current astronauts are men.

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Successful candidates, who must be Japanese, will be trained and sent on missions – perhaps to the Moon, the Lunar Gateway or the International Space Station.

“We want to establish a (recruitment) system that is consistent with the current time,” Kazuyoshi Kawasaki of JAXA said at a media conference.

“Previously we limited candidates to those with a science degree, but many of us agreed to make it not a requirement.”

However, written examinations will include university-level questions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with the English proficiency of the candidates also tested.

JAXA said it will accept applications between Dec. 20 and March 4 – the first time it has offered positions for start-up astronauts in 13 years.

This time, they are looking to recruit “a few” astronauts with at least three years of work experience.

There is no age requirement or sex quotas and the agency has lowered its height requirement to 149.5 centimeters (4.9 feet).

One of Japan’s current crew members is 52-year-old Akihiko Hoshide, who returned to Earth from the International Space Station earlier this month on a SpaceX spacecraft.

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