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Do you have a 4-year-old in your house who can explain elliptical orbits? Were you surprised to hear that your 7-year-old thinks Apollo Astronaut Bob Lovell is a really cool guy? Do your teenagers fight to get a look at the Mir through the family telescope? If someone in your family has become space-obsessed, you are not alone. "Astronaut" has quickly shot to the top of the list of what kids want to be when they grow up, and it's easy to see why.

In recent months, NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) has captured all our imaginations with breathtaking pictures of the Martian landscape and the discovery of water on the moon. Even preschoolers were lured into the vacuum of space over their morning cereal when Sesame Street launched Slimey the worm and his fellow WASA (Worm Air & Space Agency) astro-worms into space for a moon walk.

Combine these exciting developments with the July launch of the first piece of the International Space Station, and we have an atmosphere ripe for the development of thousands of future astronauts. That's a good thing because the same organization that is inspiring our kids today will be hiring them tomorrow. NASA's demand for astronauts and the scientists who launch them into space is increasing.

So when your child says she wants to be an astronaut, this might be just another phase she's going through. Or it might be the beginning of a fascination with science and technology that will take her into orbit and beyond. Why not encourage her to start training today?

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