how much money do astronauts make

how much money do astronauts make

Astronaut salaries can vary quite a bit depending on several factors, but here’s a comprehensive breakdown:

Pay System:

  • Civilian Astronauts: They fall under the General Schedule (GS) pay system used by the U.S. federal government.
  • Military Astronauts: Typically commissioned officers, they follow the military pay system.

Salary Range:

  • Civilian Astronauts:
    • Entry-level: Starting at around $66,000 per year (GS-11 pay grade).
    • Experienced: Can reach up to $144,566 per year (GS-14 pay grade), with potential for even higher with promotions.
  • Military Astronauts: Salaries depend on rank and years of service.
    • For example, a Brigadier General with 8 years of service earns about $118,872 per year.
    • A Lieutenant Colonel with 20 years of service can make roughly $151,092 per year.

Factors Affecting Salary:

  • Education and Qualifications: Higher education and relevant experience can lead to a higher starting pay grade.
  • Experience: Time spent in the astronaut corps generally leads to promotions and higher pay grades.
  • Job Duties and Responsibilities: Certain roles within the astronaut corps may carry a higher salary potential.
  • Military Rank: For military astronauts, rank progression directly impacts their salary.

Additional Benefits:

  • Comprehensive healthcare: Astronauts and their families receive excellent health insurance benefits.
  • Retirement plans: Both civilian and military astronauts have access to generous retirement plans.
  • Housing allowances: For civilian astronauts living near NASA facilities, housing allowances may be provided.
  • Other perks: NASA offers various other benefits, such as educational assistance programs and discounts at certain retailers.

how much money do astronauts make

Things to Consider:

  • The astronaut selection process is highly competitive, with only a small fraction of applicants ultimately chosen.
  • Astronaut training is rigorous and demanding, requiring years of dedication and preparation.
  • The risks associated with spaceflight are inherent, making it a dangerous career choice.


While astronauts may not be among the highest-paid professionals, their salaries are competitive and come with excellent benefits. More importantly, many astronauts are driven by a sense of accomplishment and a desire to explore the universe, making the rewards go beyond monetary compensation.

I hope this information provides a complete picture of how much astronauts make and the factors that influence their salaries. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask!

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