Future astronauts should be prepared to be in school for a long time cuz you'll need to get a bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or math, and then get a graduate's degree. You also need to be in excellent shape - to be accepted to astronaut training, you must pass a tough physical exam, which includes swimming three lengths of an Olympic-size swiming pool in a flightsuit and sneakers!. Astronaut ranks and positions. Jump to navigation Jump to search Joseph P. Kerwin, first American physician in space Space Shuttle: Commander Overall mission success, safety of crew and Shuttle, maneuvers Shuttle with assistance from Pilot. John Young, commander of the first Shuttle mission All Shuttle commanders have prior spaceflight experience. Requires a degree in engineering . STS-120 astronauts Pamela Melroy, shuttle commander, and George Zamka, pilot, pose for a photo in the cockpit of a NASA DC-9 aircraft during a Heavy Aircraft Training (HAT) session..