NASA selected the first group of astronauts in 1959. From 500 candidates having the required jet aircraft flight experience and engineering training, as well as height below 5 feet 11 inches, seven military men became the nation’s first astronauts. The second and third groups chosen included civilians with extensive flying experience. By 1964, requirements changed, and emphasis was placed on academic qualifications; in 1965, six scientist astronauts were selected from a group of 400 applicants who had a doctorate or equivalent experience in the natural sciences, medicine, or engineering.
Since inception, NASA has selected 360 astronaut candidates: 299 men, 61 women; 212 military, 138 civilians; 191 pilots, 159 non-pilots.
As of Jan. 2023, there are 41 active astronauts, 18 management astronauts, 10 astronaut candidates, and 288 former astronauts or payload specialists, including those who have left NASA, and those who are deceased.
The spaceflights and statistics listed in this publication resulted from the vertical takeoff of an American space vehicle or Soyuz taxi flight to the International Space Station.