News / Science & Technology

    NASA Introduces New Astronaut Candidates

    New astronauts selected by NASA
    New astronauts selected by NASA
    Suzanne Presto
    The U.S. space agency has introduced eight new astronaut candidates, selected from a pool of 6,300 applicants.

    The new astronaut trainees - Josh Cassada, Victor Glover, Nick Hague, Christina Hammock, Nicole Mann, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir and Dr. Andrew Morgan - have all dreamed of becoming space explorers. During the past year-and-a-half, they have passed rigorous medical and psychological evaluations, and have performed well during multiple tests and interviews. Now they are letting their families and employers know that they are changing careers, all in the pursuit of their dream.

    NASA's Janet Kavandi, a veteran astronaut and the director of Flight Crew Operations, says the candidates are "an amazing group of people."  

    Once they complete their training, they'll join NASA's astronaut corps, which currently stands at 48. That is about one-third the size it was at its peak a decade ago.

    "With a smaller astronaut corps and fewer people in the office, now each person needs to have as diverse a background as possible, so we tried to work hard to make sure that the eight people we got had a broad spectrum of experiences, and I think you can tell that from their qualifications," Kavandi said in a Google Plus Hangout.

    Candidates' Qualifications  

    Most of the candidates either are presently in the military or have served in the military; one is a medical doctor; some are civilians who are trained scientists; and several have spent ample time in a cockpit. The candidates are all in their 30s, and they will begin their astronaut training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas this August.

    Candidate Josh Cassada, a former naval aviator, was emotional in his video introduction that was broadcast on NASA TV Monday.

    "I think if society isn't exploring, we're really just kind of sustaining, and to be able to contribute to that exploration in any small way is really exciting to me," he said.

    Candidate Christina Hammock serves as the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration station chief in American Samoa.

    "What actually inspired me to make the move to actually do the application was just reflecting on my career and realizing that through following my own personal dreams, I had accumulated a set of skills that I thought could really be useful in contributing to human spaceflight," she said.

    Nick Hague, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, said this was the third time he applied to the astronaut corps.

    "My parents are going to be excited.  They know that this has been a life-long goal, trying to become part of the program," he said. "My brothers, as they always do, will give me a hard time."  

    Women Candidates

    Half of the new astronaut trainees are women. NASA says this is the highest percentage of female candidates ever selected for a class.

    "That was not by choice or by determination," said NASA's Kavandi. "We never determine how many people of each gender we're going to take, but these were the most qualified people of the ones that we interviewed. They earned every bit of the right to be there."

    Kavandi said she attributes this to women's achievements in demanding fields that put them on equal footing with male candidates.

    Next Generation

    This is NASA's 21st astronaut class. The U.S. space agency has selected and trained 330 astronauts since the initial class of 1959.

    NASA says its plan is to keep an active astronaut corps of between 45 and 55 people.    

    NASA Administrator Bolden’s message about the Astronaut Class of 2013

    You May Like

    Video US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora