NASA has selected eight new astronaut trainees – its first astronaut candidate class in four years.
Some 6,100 people applied for the chance to join the 49 active astronauts who are part of NASA’s astronaut corps, Space.com reported.
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"These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we’re doing big, bold things here – developing missions to go farther into space than ever before," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.
If they can survive the stomach-turning training, astronauts from this group may win seats on the first privately-built American spacecraft to fly to the International Space Station, lead the first human mission to an asteroid or be among the first humans to visit Mars.
The class includes four women – the highest percentage of female candidates ever selected – and ranges in age from 34 to 39.
The astronaut candidates are:
Josh A. Cassada, Ph. D, a physicist and former naval aviator; Victor J. Glover, Lt. Commander, US Navy, an F/A-18 pilot currently serving as a Navy Legislative Fellow in the US Congress; Tyler N. Hague, Lt. Colonel, US Air Force, employed at the Department of Defense; Christina M. Hammock, station chief for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in American Samoa; Nicole Aunapu Mann, Major, US Marine Corps, an F/A-18 pilot who works at the US Naval Air Station; Anne C. McClain, Major, US Army, an OH-58 helicopter pilot; Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D., an assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School; and Andrew R. Morgan, MD, Major, US Army, an emergency physician and flight surgeon for Army special operations.
The new astronaut candidates start training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in August.
NASA officials will discuss the astronaut class selections at a Google+ Hangout at 4 p.m. EDT today.