What do Astronauts do?

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symbolite

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Wasn't sure where to ask this hopefully this is the correct place.<br /><br />Nasa has a bunch of astronauts and obviously can't send them all into space. So what do the astronauts that are not on missions and not training for missions do exactly? I doubt they just sit at home and collect their pay check. Its a question that has always lingered in my mind. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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holmec

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while not training?<br /><br />Hmm....I think the ones not training are called Retirees.<br /><br />I don't know much, but as far as I do know all active astronauts train for missions. <br /><br />Otherwise I'd assume that NASA would have a hard time justifying keeping extra personnel. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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CalliArcale

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Astronauts do lots of jobs when they're not actually in space or training for a mission. (Note: training takes many times as long as the actual mission does, so that occupies a lot of their time all on its own.) They perform a variety of roles around the various space centers, from administrative functions to educational outreach to engineering tasks (at all levels) to scientific research to training other astronauts. Perhaps the most visible role (to Joe Q Public anyway) is CAPCOM -- during any mission, a single person is on duty at all times to be the single point of contact between mission control on the ground and the crew in space. This role is always filled by an astronaut, and you can see them on duty if you watch NASA TV during a mission.<br /><br />NASA generally keeps the astronauts busy full-time. Even an astronaut who never flies in space will be employed full-time by the agency, and that doesn't just mean collecting a paycheck; they will actually be working full-time. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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rocketwatcher2001

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A great book to read is BEFORE LIFT-OFF, it's more than 20 years old, but it's a great look at the year long training that a Shuttle crew goes through before a mission. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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willpittenger

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It has been noted in another thread that sometimes astronauts are not available for Capcom duty. In such cases, it appears that the mission control team talk directly to the astronauts at ISS. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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erioladastra

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Some good comments but let me try to add.<br /><br />Yes, they spend a fair amount of time training. Some is generic (e.g., 'shuttle' or 'ISS') and some is specific (particular mission or increment when assigned). However, when no preparing for a mission, they do a lot of technical roles. They help the flight control team develop displays, procedures and flight rules, and they check and verify many of the items. They will also support design reviews for software or hardware - anything they touch. Some will help astronauts train (for example the EVA office has a number assigned to help train others). They also act as capcoms. They are also support astronauts - for example when someone is on ISS for an extended stay, the Crew Support Astronaut (CSA) is that person's proxy on the ground for all things, as well as an interface to the family. They are generally pretty busy.<br /><br />As to capcoms - yes, as I have said we don't have enough to man the ISS capcom console 24/7. However, when not available we use Training Leads or flight directors, not flight controllers. The controllers are only put ont eh horn for special discussions where a middle man makes it too hard.
 
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