NASA has selected eight new candidates — four men and four women — to join the ranks of its astronaut corps. for missions to the International Space Station and beyond.
Picked from the second-highest number of applicants in any previous rounds of astronaut selections, the space agency said more than 6,000 people applied for this 21st astronaut class .
NASA has selected and trained 330 astronauts since the initial astronaut class of 1959. Most recently in 2009, NASA selected nine candidates.
The latest trainees could become the first Americans to launch from U.S. since retirement of the space shuttle.
“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,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “They’re excited about the science we’re doing on the International Space Station and our plan to launch from U.S. soil to there on spacecraft built by American companies. And they’re ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars.”
The astronaut candidates are:
Josh A. Cassada, Ph.D., 39, is originally from White Bear Lake, Minn. Cassada is a former naval aviator who holds an undergraduate degree from Albion College, and advanced degrees from the University of Rochester, N.Y. Cassada is a physicist by training and currently is serving as co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for Quantum Opus.
Victor J. Glover, 37, Lt. Commander, U.S. Navy, hails from Pomona, Calif., and Prosper, Texas. He is an F/A-18 pilot and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards, Calif. Glover holds degrees from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Air University and the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif. He currently is serving as a Navy Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Congress.
Tyler N. (Nick) Hague, 37, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Air Force, calls Hoxie, Kan., home. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., and the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards, Calif. Hague currently is supporting the Department of Defense as Deputy Chief of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.
Christina M. Hammock, 34, calls Jacksonville, N.C., home. Hammock holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. She currently is serving as National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Station Chief in American Samoa.
Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35, Major, U.S. Marine Corps, originally is from Penngrove, Calif. She is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Stanford University and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Md. Mann is an F/A 18 pilot, currently serving as an Integrated Product Team Lead at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River.
Anne C. McClain, 34, Major, U.S. Army, lists her hometown as Spokane, Wash. She is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Va.; the University of Bath and the University of Bristol, both in the United Kingdom. McClain is an OH-58 helicopter pilot, and a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River.
Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D., 35, is from Caribou, Maine. She is a graduate of Brown University, has an advanced degree from the International Space University, and earned her doctorate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Meir currently is an Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
Andrew R. Morgan, M.D., 37, Major, U.S. Army, considers New Castle, Pa., home. Morgan is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and earned a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md. He has experience as an emergency physician and flight surgeon for the Army special operations community, and currently is completing a sports medicine fellowship.
The new astronaut candidates will begin training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in August.
“This year we have selected eight highly qualified individuals who have demonstrated impressive strengths academically, operationally and physically,” said Janet Kavandi, director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson. “They have diverse backgrounds and skill sets that will contribute greatly to the existing astronaut corps. Based on their incredible experiences to date, I have every confidence that they will apply their combined expertise and talents to achieve great things for NASA and this country in the pursuit of human exploration.”