formally introduced the space agency’s eight new astronaut candidates at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Wednesday.
The eight men and women who were picked by NASA to join the Astronaut Corps were chosen from more than 6,100 applicants after a rigorous selection process.
The new astronauts introduced by Bolden are Josh A. Cassada and Victor J. Glover, both lieutenant commanders in the U.S. Navy; Tyler N. "Nick" Hague, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force; Christina M. Hammock; Nicole Aunapu Mann, a major in the U.S. Marine Corps; Anne C. McClain and Andrew R. Morgan, both majors in the U.S. Army; and Jessica U. Meir.
“They not only have the right stuff…they represent the full tapestry of America,” Bolden said. “These next generation of explorers will be among those who plan and carry out the first human missions to an asteroid or on to Mars. Their journey begins now, and the nation will be right beside them reaching for the stars.”
The new astronauts have a challenging future ahead of them. NASA says that they will be among those who will be able to fly on the new commercial space transportation systems that are being developed and perhaps will carry out the first-ever human missions to an asteroid and Mars.
After introducing the new astronauts, representing the future of NASA – Bolden talked about future space exploration plans.
Bolden spoke of the updated Global Exploration Roadmap (GER), an international effort developed by NASA and 11 other space agencies from around the world that share a global vision of space exploration. Among some of the ambitious plans laid out in the GER are said to include the following:
- An examination of the critical part the International Space Station plays in deep space exploration,
- Robotic and human missions to destinations that include near-Earth asteroids, the moon and Mars,
- Validation of the vital role of NASA's asteroid mission in advancing the capabilities needed to explore Mars and the economic and societal value such exploration can bring,
- A conceptual scenario that demonstrates how missions in the lunar vicinity, including NASA's asteroid initiative, open the way for international missions to Mars in the 2030s, while enabling important discoveries along the way.
While the space agency outlined its future today, it also is addressing its past. Officials at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida announced that they are looking for ideas on what to do with three of its historic mobile launch platforms that NASA no longer needs.
The space agency is thinking that perhaps some privately owned space companies could use the old launch facilities for their own commercial launch activity, non-space related private companies could repurpose the facilities for their own needs, or they could be used in other ways to benefit the public or environment.
The three mobile launch platforms NASA is looking to sell or lease include those that were used to hold Saturn rockets, which made their way to the moon as well as space shuttles whose program came to an end in 2011.
NASA described these launch platforms as two-story, steel structures that are almost 8 meters tall, 50 meters long, 41 meters wide and weigh around 4 kilotons.
The space agency added that each of the platforms feature a number of pathways, compartments and plumbing and electrical cabling systems.