NASA has 10 new astronauts, and they couldn’t have joined at a better time – .

NASA has 10 new astronauts, and they couldn’t have joined at a better time – .

Enlarge / Meet the New Astronaut Candidates: U.S. Air Force Maj. Nichole Ayers, Christopher Williams, U.S. Marine Corps Major (Retired) Luke Delaney, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jessica Wittner, US Air Force Lt. Col. Anil Menon, US Air Force Maj. Marcos Berríos, US Navy Cmdr. Jack Hathaway, Christina Birch, US Navy Lt. Deniz Burnham and Andre Douglas.


This week, NASA announced its first class of new astronauts since 2017, hiring 10 candidates to train at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for the next two years.

There can be no assurance that each of these six men and four women, aged 32 to 45 and all with extremely Impressive CVs, complete training and become full-fledged astronauts. But one thing is clear: They are coming to NASA at an opportune time.

“This is the golden age of human spaceflight,” Reid Wiseman said Monday during a ceremony at an airfield near the Johnson Space Center welcoming new astronaut candidates.

Wiseman would know. Now head of the Astronaut Bureau, Wiseman was selected in August 2009. At that time, the Space Shuttle was due to retire. Neither he nor any of his classmates would fly in the American vehicle. The majority of them would make their first space flight aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. And at the time, there was no coherent plan to explore deep space – NASA was in principle on a “trip to Mars”, which has been ridiculed as a “trip to nowhere”. The 2013 and 2017 classes also faced a similar uncertainty.

But now NASA has SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to fly four people at a time into low earth orbit. And within the next two years, Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is expected to be operational. In the mid-2020s, NASA’s Orion spacecraft will also enter service, and SpaceX is also developing its large Starship vehicle for moon landings and more. Never before in its history will NASA have so many manned space vehicles.

And while NASA has some dynamic research underway at the International Space Station, it also has a pretty solid plan for lunar exploration with the Artemis program. Many of the 10 people who took the stage inside a T-38 maintenance hangar on Monday are likely to walk on the moon in the next 10 or 15 years.

Wiseman, who led the selection process, said the agency is looking for people with a wide range of skills who can do everything from growing protein crystals on the space station to drilling water on the surface. from the moon.

“We’re always looking for smart and dedicated people in their current fields,” Wiseman said in an interview after the ceremony. “We want team players, people we know we can send to the space station or to the moon’s surface, and get along with the team. And we want to know when we choose you, that you have the kind of drive and prowess to get the job done. These people are all complex problem solvers, and they are all team players. “

The new astronaut candidates, as a result, came from a variety of backgrounds at NASA, from traditional test pilots to oil drilling to the national track cycling championship.

“You might think my path as a bioengineer and a cyclist is a little distant, but it’s really all of these skills that I gained through these experiences that have helped me get here,” said Christina Birch. , 35, who has a doctorate in biological engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and won the title of individual cycling pursuit in the United States in 2016 and 2017.

NASA also sought to select a diverse group of people representative of the entire country. The new astronauts came from all over the United States, from Puerto Rico to Alaska, of diverse ethnic origins.

“We really want every little kid that grows up in America to look at NASA’s astronaut office and see themselves projected into the future,” Wiseman said. ” Its very important for us. We were extremely fortunate this time to have a fantastic and diverse group of applicants who came in and just crushed it. “

NASA selected the final class from over 12,000 applicants. Wiseman said that among these there were 500 people he could easily have selected to become astronauts. NASA gave the power to select up to a dozen people, but those 10 stood with their heads and shoulders above the rest. The agency will likely select another class in 2025, when the Artemis program begins to ramp up.


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