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Can Astronauts Have Tattoos? [Now Or Historically?]

There are a lot of requirements to become an astronaut. But what about tattoos specifically, are they allowed to have them when applying or after joining NASA? Here is what you will be interested to know.

So, can astronauts have tattoos? Astronauts can have tattoos; there is nothing in the NASA rules, guidelines, or requirements that directly specifies they cannot. That being said, it is considered professional practice for an astronaut to cover them while working (if possible).

In fact, and here is where it gets interesting.

A number of NASA astronauts have had tattoos over the years.

Charles Conrad, a former astronaut who was the commander of Apollo XII (Apollo 12 or, the sixth crewed flight and second to land on the Moon) had a tattoo on his left arm.

You can see it in the photo below:

So we know for a fact that having tattoos is not against the rules (either today), or as far back as 1962 when Charles joined NASA.

And more interesting still, there are several Nasa Reddit conversations where current employees state that it’s not an issue to have tattoos, or piecing for that matter.

Here are just a couple of the responses to a question on “professionalism in the NASA workplace”:

“I have large tattoos all over, dyed bright hair, and have had piercings. No one cares. It’s not a business. We have no ultra-conservative customers to impress. People wear Hawaiian shirts and flip flops to work.”

And here was another response, for good measure:

“I personally don’t have any tattoos or piercings but I’ve met quite a few people that do. Including interns and stuff. Really not a big deal since we don’t interact with customers. The only time I could see this being an issue is if you happen to be interviewing with a particularly conservative person. If you are really worried though, you could always just wear a long sleeve shirt to cover up the forearm stuff during interviews.”

Granted, while this is for NASA employees and not astronauts specifically, it is the same organization, after all.

It would therefore make sense that they have a company-wide policy.

And it’s unlikely they will ever be added to the requirements either.

Besides, tattoos have been historically used as a means to mark the spot to attach biomed sensors.

These were essentially technology that enabled biomedical data to be collected from astronauts – to see how spaceflight and space affected the human body.

They measure core body temperature, respiration rate, and the activity of the heart.

And to ensure they were also positioned correctly; well astronauts were tattooed in small dots to mark all the placement points.

So not only are they “allowed them”, there has actually been a strategic use for tattoos, for astronauts.

Wondering what else astronauts can and cannot do? Then my other guides may be of interest: