Photo/Illutration Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide carries out a mission outside the International Space Station on Sept. 12. (Provided by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)

Those wanting to shoot for the stars with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and apply for the astronaut program no longer have to be rocket scientists or the classroom equivalent.

For the first time in a government space agency in the world, JAXA has scrapped the academic requirement for astronauts.

By no longer requiring prospective astronauts to have educational backgrounds and work experience in scientific-related fields, JAXA hopes to employ more diverse crews for future manned lunar exploration missions.

JAXA on Nov. 19 released a list of required qualifications for applicants in its first recruitment of astronauts in 13 years.

It states that applicants must be capable of working on an international team and showing leadership with an eye on joining future missions for a U.S.-led manned lunar exploration program in which Japan will also take part.

The required qualifications also include the ability to think flexibly and take appropriate actions to survive in extreme situations.

“It’s important to give it a shot,” said Kimiya Yui, who joined a handful of successful applicants for JAXA’s previous astronaut recruitment in 2009, which received 963 applications. “I made many friends and was able to improve myself in the screening process. I haven’t had any junior astronauts for the last 13 years. I want many people to apply for the position.”

The significant easing of the requirements for astronauts reflects an expected radical shift in their working environment.

JAXA astronauts have conducted experiments aboard U.S. space shuttles and served aboard the International Space Station. Such activities take place within around 400 kilometers from Earth, enabling astronauts to maintain constant communication with ground control and return home in just half a day in the event of a problem.

But it takes several days for astronauts on lunar exploration missions to return to Earth, and communication time between the moon and Earth is slow.

JAXA is, therefore, seeking to hire those who can exercise self-discipline, make good judgments and act accordingly under such extremely harsh conditions, both physically and mentally.

In the upcoming recruitment of new astronauts, JAXA will no longer require applicants to have university degrees in science, weigh within a certain range, be able to swim and communicate freely in English because those abilities can be evaluated during the screening process or acquired in training.

But applicants are still required to have three years or more of work experience, be between 149.5 centimeters and 190.5 cm tall, have corrected eyesight of at least 1.0 for both eyes and have normal color vision and hearing.

JAXA will accept applications from Dec. 20 through March 4. Applicants will also be evaluated for their skills of sharing their experiences and achievements with other people during the four rounds of exams and screenings.

JAXA will choose only a few prospective astronaut candidates by around February 2023. The agency said it plans to recruit astronauts every five years after that.