Matt Damon The Martian Matt Damon The Martian Matt Damon plays an astronaut who has to survive after being abandoned on Mars in the new Ridley Scott film "The Martian." (Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Here's your chance to go to Mars (seriously)

NASA seeking eager citizens to join elite crew.

Do you have the right stuff?

Starting today, NASA is seeking eager citizens to become astronauts for an upcoming Mars mission, and you (yes you!) can apply online. And while you'll be traveling to outer space, this gig does not require knowledge of the Star Trek-inspired Klingon language like some high-tech companies require here on Earth.

However, candidates will need to pass a swimming test to qualify. (You know, because they're finding water on Mars.) Among the other key requirements for applicants comes this understated gem: Frequent travel may be required.

The once-futuristic idea of man traveling to the Red Planet has now become grounded in reality. In the past few months alone, NASA has unveiled a three-step plan for sending astronauts to Mars, asked for the public's help in designing Mars habitats and created an Iron Man-style robot to send to the planet. To help them with their Mars mission, the U.S. space agency has entered into a partnership with Israel, the same country that hosted an international space conference in October, where Mars was a hot topic.

Buzz Aldrin, the 85-year-old legendary astronaut who was the second person to step foot on the moon, is now advocating for colonizing Mars and hopes to see it happen within his lifetime. And this fall's most popular movie starred Matt Damon as a man stranded on Mars, forced to grow potatoes for four years while he awaited rescue.

According to LinkedIn, some 3 million of the networking site’s U.S. members appear to meet the minimum academic eligibility requirements for NASA's astronaut job.

Working for NASA comes with lots of benefits. They include about two weeks vacation, college tuition assistance and the option to telecommute – which we assume will come in handy if you're going to be based 140 million miles away on Mars. Not to mention the space agency was recently named the best place to work in the federal government for the fourth year in a row.

If you're interested, you'll need to apply before the Feb. 18, 2016, deadline. NASA said the selections will be announced in the spring of 2017. Selected candidates will report for duty at the Johnson Space Center in Houston in the fall of 2017. Training will last about two years, putting the astronauts on track to head to Mars as early as 2020.

“NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars, and we’re looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life to help get us there,” said NASA administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden. “Today, we opened the application process for our next class of astronauts, extraordinary Americans who will take the next giant leap in exploration. This group will launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft and blaze the trail on our journey to the Red Planet.”


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Here's your chance to go to Mars (seriously)
NASA seeking eager citizens to join elite crew.