Heard that saying about the camel's chances of making it through the eye of a needle?
Think of those camels when your thoughts turn to being an astronaut because it is extremely difficult to become a government-issue, card-carrying, spacesuit-wearing NASA astronaut. The competition is withering. How about this -- for the 21st astronaut class slated for spring 2013, NASA got nearly 6,300 applications for nine to 15 spots. That’s .2 percent of the astro-aspirants making the grade. And you're competing against total Type A’s -- the scientists, the air force people, the test pilots.
Let's say you get lucky, and you're one of those 20. You think you'll be orbital in a year? Fat chance. First, you have to be picked for a mission, and the odds are tiny. The training is long. And now that the U.S. space shuttle is history and living in a museum, you have to muscle in on another country's shuttle -- Russia and its Soyuz spacecraft -- to make it to the international space station.
Number of American astronauts in space as of November 2012? One - Commander Kevin Ford, from Indiana, whose most recent news splash was a Thanksgiving message, as he and the crew feasted on irradiated smoked turkey and thermo-stabilized yams. Number of Earthbound astronauts? Close to 60.