PoSSUM Scientist Astronaut Program

This is not an ‘Astronaut Experience’.  We do not train tourists


Every component of the PoSSUM Scientist Astronaut Program is designed to teach the candidate how to 1) perform effective suborbital noctilucent cloud science missions, 2) serve as PoSSUM educators, and 3) conduct PoSSUM aeronomy, bioastronautics, and human factors research that provide a research foundation for tomorrow’s space missions.
NASA Astronaut Don Pettit lectures to PoSSUM students about imaging noctilucent clouds from the International Space Station.
NASA Astronaut Don Pettit lectures to PoSSUM students about imaging noctilucent clouds from the International Space Station.
PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1601 shows that they have 'The Right Stuff' in the PoSSUM High-Altitude Facility
PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1601 shows that they have 'The Right Stuff' in the PoSSUM High-Altitude Facility

For those holding a B.S. Degree from an accredited university, the PoSSUM Scientist Astronaut Qualification Program at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a five-day, fully immersive training program that will provide the skills required to effectively conduct research on the next generation of commercial space vehicles as part of Project PoSSUM. Designed and instructed by former NASA astronaut instructors and PoSSUM team scientists, the PoSSUM Scientist Astronaut Qualification Program combines three weeks of webinar instruction followed by one-week of intensive training including high-G training, crew resource management training, spacesuit training, high-altitude training, biometric analysis, and PoSSUMCam operations. You will also receive comprehensive instruction on noctilucent cloud science, observational history, research methods from some of the world’s leading noctilucent cloud scientists, then learn to use real PoSSUM Instruments on customized simulations of actual PoSSUM research flights, using the most modern training facilities available. Upon graduation, you will be fully trained and qualified to participate in PoSSUM graduate specializations, become a PoSSUM educator, or to fly to space as a PoSSUM Scientist Astronaut!


Program Details

  • The Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere Environment
  • Fundamentals of Remote Sensing
  • Remote Sensing and Aerospace Cinematography
  • Spaceflight Simulation and Operations
  • Hypoxia Awareness and Mitigation
  • Spacesuit Operations
  • High-G Analog and Mitigation Methods
  • Introduction to Aerospace Physiology and Life Support Systems
  • Celestial Navigation and Atmospheric Scattering
  • Science Communication and Public Outreach
Students Receive
  • Five days of instruction and training session plus preparatory Webinar sessions to cover academics
  • Mission simulation and Crew Resource Management Training in PoSSUMSim
  • High-G and microgravity Space Physiology flight with Patty Wagstaff using a Super Decathlon aerobatic aircraft and an Extra 300 aerobatic aircraft.
  • Anti-G Garment training
  • High Altitude mission training in a full altitude chamber facility using simulation and biometric analysis.
  • Spacesuit Training (don, doff, regulating pressure, basic mobility, fine motor skills, flight system control, contingency operations)
  • Full Scientist-Astronaut Mission simulation training in spacesuits in PoSSUMSim
  • Individual instruction on PoSSUMCam and scientific video camera systems
  • PoSSUM flight suit (official personalized NOMEX flight suits available for an additional $250)
  • PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Manual (hardcover)
  • Welcome reception, keynote talks and panels, and graduation
  • Comprehensive assessment and videos of students training procedures
  • PoSSUM graduation certificate
  • Three Continuing Education Units in ‘Suborbital Mission Operations’ from Embry-Riddle

The PoSSUM scientist astronaut course maintains the standards established for flight crew as part of FAR § 460.5(b) for the PoSSUM researcher. Specifically, the researcher will “demonstrate an ability to withstand the stresses of space flight, which may include high acceleration or deceleration, microgravity, and vibration, in sufficient condition to safely carry out his or her duties.”

PoSSUM scientist astronaut duties include effective operation of the PoSSUMCam system, real-time identification of noctilucent cloud micro-features of greatest scientific interest, real-time optimization of camera settings at cloud altitudes, proper use of crew resource management techniques to assure proper vehicle attitude at all times during the mission, and the effective activation of MCAT and MASS instruments at cloud altitudes.


Program Schedule

Day One: Academic Instruction and Simulator Operations

Objectives: To understand principles of the PoSSUM Program and gain a general understanding of the mesosphere, noctilucent cloud dynamics, observational methods and history, noctilucent cloud structures, aerospace physiology, and life support systems relevant to suborbital flight.


Topics: Overview of the PoSSUM program (1 hr) , Science of the Mesosphere (1 hr), Fundamentals of Remote Sensing (1 hr), Basic Noctilucent Cloud Science (1 hr), PoSSUM Instrumentation Operations (1 hr), Imaging Noctilucent Clouds from Suborbital Spacecraft (1 hr), Imaging Noctilucent Clouds from the International Space Station (1 hr), Aerospace Physiology (1 hr), and Life Support Systems (1 hr)


Evening Seminar: PoSSUM Suborbital Simulator Operations

Instructors: Dr. Jason Reimuller, Dr. Erik Seedhouse, Dr. Dave Fritts

Day Two: Hypoxia Effects and PoSSUMCam Operations


1) Overview of PoSSUM instrumentation and operational concepts, and operations of the PoSSUMCam system.

2)  To recognize off-nominal environments and your own physiological responses to contingency environments in a spacesuit.


Training Elements:

1)     Comprehensive training geared towards the effective use of the PoSSUMCam system and other PoSSUM instrumentation in a classroom environment.

2)     Hypoxia awareness training at altitudes equivalent to 25,000 feet in a high-altitude chamber at our Melbourne, Florida. Flight Operations Facility, capable of simulating space missions in hypoxic or hyperoxic environments.


Evening Seminar: Spaceflight Physiology, Dr. Perry Bechtle

Instructors: Dr. Paul Buza, Van Wampler, Parker Rice

Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj and Callum Wallach are exposed to hypoxic conditions in simulated flight. (credit: Ross Lockwood)
Day Three: Spacesuit Training and PoSSUM Mission Simulation


1)  To don, doff, pressurize, and operate effectively in spacesuits while in confined environments that simulate actual missions.

2)  To perform effective Crew Resource Management (CRM) techniques and procedural training in simulators designed specifically for Project PoSSUM and administered at the Embry-Riddle.


Training Elements:

1)     Comprehensive training in mission-qualified spacesuits where you will learn to don and doff a spacesuit, pressurize a spacesuit, perform safety checks, and conduct basic operations using a spacesuit.

2)     Crew Resource Management training in PoSSUM mission simulation simulating actual noctilucent cloud research missions.  Trainees will learn how to operate PoSSUM instrumentation in a real-time analog environment.


Evening Seminar: Spacesuit Operations, Nikolay Moiseev

Instructors: Nikolay Moiseev, Virgil Calejesan, Van Wampler, Parker Rice

Day Four: High-G (Ascent and Re-entry) Operations, Mitigation Methods, and Biometric System Operations


1)  To perform optimally in a high-G environment, mitigating G-induced blackouts through the use of anti-G equipment and AGSM breathing techniques.

2)  To effectively understand and manage your physiological responses to high-G and changing-G environments through biometric analysis.


Training Elements:

1)  In-flight training in an Extra 300 and Super Decathlon High-G research aircraft. You will learn how to use mechanical countermeasures and breathing techniques to mitigate high-G ascent and re-entry environments.

2)  Comprehensive biometric analysis provided by our aerospace physiology team during training activities, including pulse oxymetry and blood pressure.


Evening Seminar: TBD

Instructors: Patty Wagstaff, Alan Moore

Day Five: Remedial Instruction and Evaluations


1)  To introduce specialized topics pertaining to aeronomy and astronautics and to review and evaluate academic instruction administered through the previous four days.

2)  To complete all objectives which could not be completed in the previous days due to inclement weather or other contingencies.


Evening Seminar: Graduation

Instructors: Dr. Jason Reimuller

PoSSUM Class 1701 with NASA Astronaut Winston Scott, World-Champion Aviatrix Patty Wagstaff, and Dr. Jason Reimuller

Whats Next?

Project PoSSUM is a selective community and vests itself in the success of its graduates and seeks funding and sponsorship opportunities for its graduates through its non-profit status. Meanwhile, PoSSUM Scientist Astronaut graduates may enroll in specialized PoSSUM graduate citizen-science research programs or qualify to work as a certified PoSSUM Space Academy instructor or spacesuit and simulator technician.
Project PoSSUM Aeronomy

PoSSUM Aeronomy Research Program

Provides a practical education for the professional interested in upper-atmospheric research from research aircraft, high-altitude balloons, and suborbital spacecraft. Learn to study noctilucent clouds from research aircraft, design space instrumentation and continue your initial PoSSUM training with mission specific training for suborbital tomography missions.

PoSSUM Bioastronautics Program

Provides a broad, practical education geared to the professional interested in a career in commercial astronautics while qualifying one for PoSSUM suborbital spacesuit evaluation missions using Final Frontier IVA spacesuits. Learn to test spacesuits in microgravity environments, high-G environments, and landing and post-landing environments.

PoSSUM Science Educators Program

Learn to teach PoSSUM science to advanced high-school and undergraduate students in their local communities through the PoSSUM Educator’s Program. This program also provides opportunities to work with astronauts and artists to explore new ways to enable science communication through diversity of artistic interpretation.

Project OTTER

For PoSSUM graduates with eyes beyond the suborbital, Project OTTER provides a practical education for the professional interested in Extravehicular Spacesuit Operations. Learn about space medicine, Martian and Lunar geology, saturation diving, life support systems, and spaceflight physiology in analog microgravity and Martian environments!

2018 Class Schedule

PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1801: March 31-April 4, 2018

PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1802: October 6-10, 2018



  • Current FAA Class III Flight Physical
  • SCUBA Experience
  • Bachelors Degree in a Science, Engineering, or Technology field (not a graduate yet? Apply to Advanced PoSSUM Academy)


Cost: $5000

Apply by 1 February 2018 for PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 1801. Rate includes all instruction, texts, and graduation.


Photo Credits: Ross Lockwood (Day 1,2, and 3), CinemaRaven (Day 4 and 5)


Apply to PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Program