5 Myths About Becoming a Flight Director

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to become a NASA Flight Director? 

They are historically well known for making difficult calls and guiding the crew through “Houston, we’ve had a problem” situations, but in all spaceflight operations, they are ultimately responsible for the success of the mission.

We’re looking for a new class of Flight Directors to join our team, and there are a few things to know.

Here are a few myths about becoming a Flight Director:

MYTH: You have to have already been a flight controller in Mission Control at NASA to become a flight director.

FACT: Although many flight directors have previously been NASA flight controllers, that is not a prerequisite to apply. The necessary experience could come from the military, other spaceflight organizations or areas that operate in similar high-stakes conditions.

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MYTH: You have to already have a special spaceship flying license to apply.

FACT: The only place to get certified is on the job at NASA. Once chosen, the new flight directors will receive training on flight control and vehicle systems, as well as operational leadership and risk management.

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MYTH: All flight directors have advanced degrees like, a PhD.

FACT: While a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics from an accredited university is necessary, an advanced degree is not required to become a flight director.

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MYTH: Flight directors are required to have experience in the space industry.

FACT: While you need at least three years of related, progressively responsible professional experience to apply, it can come from a variety of industries as long as it represents time-critical decision-making experience in high-stress, high-risk environments.

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MYTH: Only astronauts become flight directors and vice versa.

FACT: To date, only one astronaut, T.J. Creamer, has become a flight director, and no flight directors have become astronauts. However, members of the flight controller teams have become astronauts. The “capsule communicator,” or CAPCOM, role in Mission Control is more often filled by astronauts because the CAPCOM is the one responsible for relaying the flight director’s decisions to the astronauts in space.

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Okay, but What are the requirements?

Basic Qualification Requirements

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Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements before submitting an application:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or math.
  • Have at least three years of related, progressively responsible professional experience.

Applications for our next Flight Director class open on March 26! Visit: go.nasa.gov/FlightDirector

Learn more about what Flight Directors do with our Everything About Mission Control Houston video featuring Flight Director Mary Lawrence!

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