Want to Be an Astronaut? You’ll need These 4 skills

Expeditions are journeys made by people who share a definite purpose and specific experiences. To make their expeditions successful, NASA works with astronaut crews on skills that prepare them to live and work together during space missions. Some of these same skills are useful in everyday life here on Earth. 4-H is a positive youth development program that prepares youth for life and work. Together, NASA and 4-H are creating the following series of activities designed to take you through various educational expeditions that will help you learn and practice skills that you can apply in almost every aspect of life.


4-H students interview Peggy Whitson
4-H students interview astronaut Peggy Whitson following her crew news conference.

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Self Care/Team Care: Preparing for the Voyage

Peggy Whitson prepares for extravehicular activity training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory
Expedition 50/51 crew member Peggy Whitson prepares for extravehicular activity training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center.
Expedition 50 crew members Thomas Pesquet, Oleg Novitskiy, and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson
Expedition 50 crew members European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscomos, and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson pose for a group photo ahead of their final qualification exams at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.

Before you can contribute to a team, you must first be able to take responsibility for yourself. This ability includes being mentally, physically and emotionally ready to go on the voyage. Everyone has the occasional difficult day, so knowing how to support your team members is also important. This section will strengthen your ability to care for yourself and your team.

Cultural Competency: Embarking on Pilgrimages

Pilgrimages are searches that help people understand their personal beliefs and recognize how and why they have those beliefs. The activities in this section take you beyond your own beliefs and teach you how to understand, appreciate and value the beliefs of others. Only in creating paths that allow the team to work together can you move forward in your expeditions.

Leadership/Followership: The Challenge of the Quest

Lots of people like to be the leader, but leaders need a team to follow them. Different quests require different skills, which means different types of leaders are needed throughout an expedition. Understanding when to lead and when to follow, and the importance of both roles, will be explored in this section.

Teamwork Communication: Launching Into Orbit

This section takes everything you’ve learned and puts it into action. To launch your expedition into orbit, everyone on the team needs to do their part. Of course, that begins with knowing what each person’s part is, making sure team members are ready to perform their part and that they get it done, and dealing with any unexpected challenges that develop along the way. Launching an expedition, like teamwork, takes practice and patience

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