NASA picks 12 new astronauts from a record number of applicants

2017 nasa astronaut class portal_jsc2017e067125
2017 NASA Astronaut Class: (from left) Zena Cardman, Jasmin
Moghbeli, Jonny Kim, Frank Rubio, Matthew Dominick, Warren
Hoburg, Robb Kulin, Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, Raji Chari, Loral O’
Hara and Jessica Watkins.


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA chose 12 new astronauts Wednesday
from its biggest pool of applicants ever, selecting seven men and
five women who could one day fly aboard the nation’s next
generation of spacecraft.

The astronaut class of 2017 includes doctors, scientists,
engineers, pilots and military officers from Anchorage to Miami
and points in between. They’ve worked in submarines, emergency
rooms, university lecture halls, jet cockpits and battleships.
They range in age from 29 to 42, and they typically led the pack.

“It makes me personally feel very inadequate when you read what
these folks have done,” said NASA’s acting administrator, Robert

Vice President Mike Pence welcomed group during a televised
ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. He offered
President Donald Trump’s congratulations and noted that the
president is “firmly committed to NASA’s noble mission, leading
America in space.”

Pence assured the crowd that NASA will have the resources and
support necessary to continue to make history.

“Under President Donald Trump, America will lead in space once
again, and the world will marvel,” he said.

More than 18,300 people threw their hats into the space ring
during a brief application period 1 ½ years ago. That’s more than
double the previous record of 8,000, set in 1978 when the space
shuttles were close to launching.

The 12 selected Wednesday will join 44 astronauts already in the
NASA corps. U.S. astronauts have not launched from home soil
since 2011, thus the low head count. But that could change next

2017 nasa astronaut class reuters RTX39J0C
President Pence delivers remarks during an event where NASA
introduced 12 new astronaut candidates.


After two years of training, the newbies may end up riding
commercial rockets to the International Space Station or flying
beyond the moon in NASA’s Orion spacecraft. Their ultimate
destination could be Mars.

SpaceX and Boeing are building capsules capable of carrying
astronauts to the space station and back, as soon as next year. A
launch engineer and senior manager for SpaceX, Robb Kulin, is
among the new astronauts. He’s also worked as an ice driller in
Antarctica and a commercial fisherman in Alaska.

“Hopefully, one day, I actually fly on a vehicle that … I got
to design,” Kulin said.

Kulin and his classmates may be in for a long wait for space.

Some members of the class of 2009 have yet to launch. Jack
Fischer, who was in that group, just got to the space station in
April, but he said he couldn’t be happier as he showed the latest
hires their “new office” in a video.

“It’s a little bit cramped. The desk is kind of small. But the
view. Oh, the view.”

This is NASA’s 22nd group of astronauts. The first group, the
original Mercury 7 astronauts, was chosen in 1959.

Altogether, 350 Americans have now been selected to become
astronauts. Requirements include U.S. citizenship; degrees in
science, technology, engineering or math; and at least three
years of experience or 1,000 hours of piloting jets.