By Roger Kim
On June 9, 2017, NASA selected its astronaut class of 2017, the largest since 2000. The five women and seven men selected as the agency’s new astronaut candidates rose to the top of more than 18,300 applicants. With the addition of these 12 members of the 2017 astronaut candidate class, NASA now has selected 350 astronauts since the original Mercury 7 in 1959.
Vice President Mike Pence joined NASA leaders Wednesday as they introduced the members of the 2017 astronaut class during an event at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “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 our grandchildren every bit as much as your forebears have done so in this storied American program,” said Vice President Pence.
The astronaut candidates will return to Johnson in August to begin two years of training. Then they could be assigned to any of a variety of missions, including: performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space mission on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.
Applicants included U.S. citizens in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa. The talented women and men selected for the new astronaut class represent the diversity of America and the career paths that can lead to a place in America’s astronaut corps. They are Kayla Barron of Washington State, Zena Cardman of Virginia, Raja Chari of Iowa, Matthew Dominick of Colorado, Bob Hines of Pennsylvania, Warren “Woody” Hoburg of Pennsylvania, Dr. Jonny Kim of California, Robb Kulin of Alaska, Jasmin Moghbeli of New York, Loral O’Hara of Texas, Dr. Francisco “Frank” Rubio of Florida, and Jessica Watkins of Colorado.
“These women and men deserve our enthusiastic congratulations,” said astronaut and Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa. “Children all across the United States right now dream of being in their shoes someday. We here at NASA are excited to welcome them to the team and look forward to working with them to inspire the next generation of explorers.”
Reference: NASA, CNN News