Astronaut in Space

Astronaut’s starting salary might convince you to become one if you don’t yet believe that the astronaut compensation could make you happy. This article will talk about the astronaut salary structure and salary scales to help you get a better grasp of how the money situation in the space industry. High-flying careers like astronauts will always be well paid. This is because the work of an astronaut is titanic. This job is not only dangerous but also demanding. So, there’s no wonder that they get high pay. In fact, they get one of the biggest salaries in the world. But how much do astronauts get paid, exactly?

To better understand why astronauts are paid so well, let’s first see what these highly skilled professionals must do while taking on the most dangerous and challenging space missions. First of all, you couldn’t become an astronaut if you wouldn’t have a Master’s science or engineering degree. And this wouldn’t be enough, as you would also need some specialized training in the field, as well as experience. And aside from technical expertise, it’s also important to be physically trained and have increased mental resilience. Let’s not forget that this job is not only physically but also mentally demanding.

How much do astronauts get paid?

Working Astronauts

NASA calculates astronaut salaries according to the General Schedule (GS), ranging from 11 to 15. According to this, the salary could be $57,000 – $147,000. And then, there’s a person’s military rank that comes into discussion. US astronauts don’t only get a basic salary, but they also enjoy some military benefits and are exempt from some taxes. What you should know is that the astronaut’s yearly salary on Earth is almost the same as in space. Even if astronauts in space go through dangerous missions, NASA only pays them symbolic bonuses. Coming as travel allowances, these bonuses are usually not higher than $200 per mission. 

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When it comes to the salary at the Indian Space Agency, this is the lowest and ranges from $500 to $1,100 a month. However, this agency offers free housing and tuition fees for all astronaut’s family members. At ESA, t salary ranges from level A2 to level A4, which is from 60,000 Euros to 85,000 Euros a year. 

Do astronauts get paid monthly?

According to Orbital Today, this would depend on each agency and country’s specifics. Here, we mostly want to help you determine if being an astronaut would make you financially happy. At NASA and other space agencies worldwide, many professionals get paid monthly. In other words, they get their salary just like any other person working in another industry would. Their salaries depend on many factors, including their rank, experience, and the agency they are working for. It would be safe to say that salary is one of the best in the world. And a higher salary is possible when working for SpaceX or another private company.

For example, Elon Musk plans to pay people going to Mars $500,000 per mission. So, if you want to earn such amount of money, you can expect to receive significant compensation, even if you don’t work for a private company. You would have not only a monthly salary but you would also get paid for each mission. And then, there are military astronauts who are trained the same as civilian ones but still get paid more. A United States Air Force colonel astronaut with about 20 years of experience could get $138,247 every year. You do the maths and calculate how much this would be per month. Major Air Force crews get somewhere at $105,663 per year.

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What benefits do astronauts get?

Some of the benefits that come with an astronaut’s salary are a flexible work schedule, flexible leave programs, and increased salary according to the cost of living. Some astronauts also get subsidized HMO, annual and paid sick leave, eligibility for Thrift Savings Plan, and Federal Employees Retirement System enrolment. Besides, the military offers some benefits as well. For example, they have a part of the income tax-free, housing, and military service allowances, as well as higher payments for pension.

As you can notice, living on an astronaut salary is not a luxurious life, but at least it’s comfortable. Apollo crew members have been paid the most in history, with Neil Armstrong getting $27,000 a year. Calculating at a current inflation rate, this salary would be $190,000 nowadays. Collins and Aldrin got the equivalent of $120,000 – $130,000 a year. And these salaries are not much different from what we can see at NASA today.


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