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 is held either at Florida Tech or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. It 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
  • Crew Resource Management Techniques
  • Hypoxia Awareness and Mitigation
  • Spacesuit Operations, including don,doff,pressure regulation, contingency operations, decompression, smoke and hazardous environments, post-landing, egress and sea survival systems, and ejection systems
  • High-G Analog and Mitigation Methods
  • Zero-G and Changing-G Physiology
  • Introduction to Aerospace Physiology and Life Support Systems
  • Celestial Navigation and Atmospheric Scattering
  • Use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for science
  • Science Communication and Public Outreach
Students Receive
  • Three weeks of preparatory webinars
  • Five days of instruction and training sessions
  • Introduction to suborbital space flight simulation
  • Mission simulation and Crew Resource Management Training in PoSSUMSim
  • High-G and microgravity Space Physiology indoctrination flight using an Extra 300L aerobatic aircraft.
  • Airborne scientific imagery training flight using Piper Cherokee 6 aircraft
  • Anti-G Garment and AGSM training
  • High Altitude mission training in a full altitude chamber facility using simulation for slow-onset hypoxia scenarios.
  • Initial Spacesuit Training (don, doff, regulating pressure, basic mobility, fine motor skills, flight system control)
  • Introduction to Spacesuit Contingency Operations (contingency operations, decompression, smoke and hazardous environments, post-landing scenarios, egress and sea survival systems, capsule egress fundamentals, and aircraft ejection systems)
  • Full Scientist-Astronaut Mission simulation training in spacesuits in PoSSUMSim
  • Introduction to virtual reality reality for space mission training
  • Individualized 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 talk(s) from industry expert(s)
  • Comprehensive assessment
  • Graduation certificate and silver-plated pin

The PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Qualification Program 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.”

For noctilucent cloud tomography missions, the 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. Duties for other PoSSUM research missions are determined as missions are conceived.


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.


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
Spacesuit Readiness in Mission Control
PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut candidates learn to operate the PoSSUMCam system in simulated flight while pressurized in a spacesuit.


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 Aeronautical University.

3) To introduce Spacesuit Contingency Operations, including decompression, smoke and hazardous environments, post-landing scenarios, egress and sea survival systems, capsule egress fundamentals, and aircraft ejection systems


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.

3) Contingency operations training including principles of decompression, smoke and hazardous environments, post-landing scenarios, egress and sea survival systems, capsule egress fundamentals, and aircraft ejection systems.


Evening Seminar: Spaceflight Physiology, Dr. Perry Bechtle

Instructors: Chris Lundeen, Van Wampler, Parker Rice

Day Four: High-G (Ascent and Re-entry) indoctrination and Mitigation Flight, Airborne Camera Operations Flight


1)  To perform optimally in a high-G environment, mitigating G-induced blackouts through the use of anti-G equipment and AGSM breathing techniques in an Extra 300L Aerobatic aircraft.

2)  To effectively operate camera systems and employ proper Crew Resource Management techniques in an airborne imagery training flight using a Piper Cherokee 6 aircraft.


Training Elements:

1) High-G and microgravity Space Physiology flight with use of mechanical countermeasures and breathing techniques to mitigate high-G ascent and re-entry environments using an Extra 300L aircraft. Indoctrination to high-G and changing-G environments analogous to suborbital spaceflight. Exposure to Gx, Gy, and Gz accelerations.

2) Execution of above maneuvers with student flying the aircraft using an Extra 300 aerobatic aircraft..

3) Anti-G Garment training and introduction to Anti-G Breathing Maneuver (AGSM) training.

4) Use of servo-controlled camera systems on aircraft using a Piper Cherokee 6 aircraft.

5) Use of proper Crew Resource Management (CRM) techniques in-flight.


Evening Film: ‘Spacewalk’ (2017)

Airborne Tomography Training Flights
Day Five: Remedial Instruction and Evaluations


1) Introduction to Virtual and Augmented reality for space missions

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

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

4) Final Evaluation


Evening Seminar: Film: Sprites, 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 citizen science astronautics

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!

2020 Class Schedule

NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all PoSSUM courses have been postponed. These dates are subject to change.

PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 2001: DELAYED TO January 15-20, 2021

PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 2002: DELAYED TO January 22-27, 2021. Webinars start on 2 January



  • 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 2020 for PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 2001. Apply by 15 October 2020 for PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Class 2002. Rate includes all instruction, texts, and graduation.


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


Apply to PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Program