A NASA Astronaut's Salary Is Less Than You Might Think

In his memoir, United States Marine Corps pilot and all-around American Space Age hero John Glenn wrote of the thoughts he had during his trip into the inky black. "As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind — every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder." There is, perhaps, no more poetic description of the terrors that come with travelling outside of Earth's atmosphere, with the exception of that scene from Total Recall where Arnold's eyeballs decompress out of their sockets while he screams for his life. But some people will do anything for decent dental coverage. 

It's one of those things that you don't really consider when you're a kid, but all of those astronauts you looked up to were depositing checks for their work every month. In addition to acclaim, patriotism, and the chance to be an icon, they were at least partially in the space exploration game because it beats digging a ditch.

So how about it, kid? How much do you figure you'd bring home in exchange for strapping yourself to the front of the world's most expensive bottle rocket? 

NASA astronauts and their star-light salaries

First, keep in mind that all things are relative and that an embarrassingly small paycheck to one person is the wealth of Midas to another. Secondly, also keep in mind that we're talking about what these folks get paid to climb into an explosion machine and hang out in the vacuum of space.

According to NASA, your standard prospective civilian astronaut can expect a government established "General Schedule pay scale" at grades GS-12 through GS-13. That clears things up so spectacularly that it hardly seems worth mentioning that GS-12 starts at around $65,000 per year and GS-13 tops out at $100,000 and change. 

So the good news is, most astronauts aren't likely to starve to death. The bad news is, and we hate to drive this point into the ground, these people are sitting in rocket propelled tubes, skedaddling into the maddening nothingness of outer space, and doing it for less than what Progressive pays the actress who plays Flo.