Harman Patil (Editor)

Astronaut ranks and positions

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Astronauts hold a variety of ranks and positions, and each of these roles carries responsibilities that are essential to the operation of a spacecraft. A spacecraft's cockpit, filled with sophisticated equipment, requires skills differing from those used to manage the scientific equipment on board, and so on.



Members of the NASA Astronaut Corps hold one of two ranks. Astronaut Candidate is the rank of those training to be NASA astronauts.

Upon graduation, candidates are promoted to Astronaut and receive their Astronaut Pin. The pin is issued in two grades, silver and gold, with the silver pin awarded to candidates who have successfully completed astronaut training and the gold pin to astronauts who have flown in space.

Chief of the Astronaut Office is a position, not a rank.


Russian astronauts are called cosmonauts. After initial training, cosmonauts are assigned as either a test-cosmonaut (космонавт-испытатель, kosmonavt-ispytatel’) or a research-cosmonaut (космонавт-исследователь, kosmonavt-issledovatel’). A test-cosmonaut has a more difficult preparation than a research-cosmonaut and can be the commander or the flight engineer of a spacecraft, while a research-cosmonaut cannot.

Higher ranks include pilot-cosmonaut, test-cosmonaut instructor, and research-cosmonaut instructor.

Pilot-Cosmonaut of the Russian Federation is a title that is presented to all cosmonauts who fly for the Russian space program.


Astronaut ranks and positions Wikipedia