NASA announced its new class of astronaut candidates last week, twelve men and women selected from a pool of over 18,300 applicants.
Members of the largest astronaut class since 2000, the candidates will spend the next two years training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, starting in August.
Once their training is completed, they will be assigned to various missions, including work on the International Space Station (ISS), positions on commercial spacecraft launched from American soil, assignments on NASA’s new Orion capsule and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and even deep space missions beyond low Earth orbit.
Applications for the 2017 astronaut class came from all 50 states as well as territories, including Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Guam.
The candidates’ acceptance brings the total number of NASA astronauts since the initial Mercury 7 class in 1959 to 350.
During a tour of Johnson’s ISS mission control center along with top NASA officials, Vice President Mike Pence welcomed the 12 newcomers to the astronaut program.
“These are 12 men and women whose personal excellence and whose personal courage will carry our nation to even greater heights of discovery and who I know will inspire our children and grandchildren every bit as much as your forebears have done so in this storied American program,” Pence said.
Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot welcomed the new astronauts as “an important addition to the NASA family and the nation’s human spaceflight team. We look forward to the energy and talent of these astronauts fueling our exciting future of discovery. Between expanding the crew on board the space station to conduct more research than ever before, and making preparations to send humans farther into space than we’ve ever been, we are going to keep them busy,” he said.
The following comprise the : Kayla Barron, Zena Cardman, Raja Chari, Matthew Dominick, Bob Hines, Warren “Woody” Hoburg, Dr. Jonny Kim, Robb Kulin, Jasmin Moghbeli, Loral O’Hara, Dr. Francisco “Frank” Rubio, and Jessica Watkins.