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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs