NASA Astronaut quits training for first time in 50 years

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For the first time in five decades, a NASA astronaut candidate has resigned from training, the US space agency said Tuesday.

Robb Kulin resigned from NASA effective August 31 for personal reasons, spokeswoman Brandi Dean said, declining to provide further details.

It’s not an easy gig to get — some 18,000 people routinely seek the 12 spots that open each year. As per NASA’s website, it can take up to two years of training to become a fully qualified astronaut. Candidates must learn the basics of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. They must also learn how to be part of a team by flying the NASA T-38 training jets. Astronauts also take classes. The agency’s basic requirements are a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics, followed by three years of professional experience (or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft). Candidates also must pass NASA’s astronaut physical examination.

Kulin, who joined his class sounding upbeat, is the first would-be astronaut to leave training since a resignation in 1968.