Kass hastens to add, though, that the candidates must also demonstrate emotional and psychological stability, coupled with an extremely strong sense of purpose. In effect, the would-be astronauts must be equipped to accept that they will be living on Mars for the rest of their lives.

I don't understand the word would-be.

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    A very common equivalent in popular / informal / speech contexts is wannabee - a person who wants or aspires to be someone or something else or who tries to look or act like someone else – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 9 '13 at 18:13
  • definition of would-be Sense 1 – user485 Apr 9 '13 at 18:51

"The would-be astronauts" means "those who are hoping to become astronauts."

You can use would-be before a noun, such as in would-be actor, would-be manager, would-be parents.

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  • +1 to u , so why they don't say would be astonauts ? why the - ? – Marco Dinatsoli Apr 9 '13 at 17:12
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    @MarcoDinatsoli When a phrase is used as attributive, it is written with hyphens. That is what happens with 32-bit in "a 32-bit processor." Exaggerating, you could also write "He is the I-know-everything man my sister doesn't like." – kiamlaluno Apr 9 '13 at 17:15
  • strange very strange sentence yours – Marco Dinatsoli Apr 9 '13 at 17:41
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    Probably, the more correct sentence would be "He is the I-know-everything kind of man my syster doesn't like." – kiamlaluno Apr 9 '13 at 17:43

would be is like they would become something

They would be(come) astronauts in four years.

Here it is expected that they will become astronauts. would be is an verb.

would-be is like wishing or pretending to become something. would-be is an adjective.

The would-be astronauts have high hopes of travelling in space. (Its possible)

The would-be astronauts failed the written exam. (Its not possible)

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