With over 18,300 Americans applying for an opportunity to visit and work in space as astronauts, NASA is overwhelmed and at the same time elated that thousands of Americans desire a career in space - NASA reports.
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“It’s not at all surprising to me that so many Americans from diverse backgrounds want to personally contribute to blazing the trail on our journey to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, a former astronaut. “A few exceptionally talented men and women will become the astronauts chosen in this group who will once again launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft.”
This current number of application is three times the applicants that applied in 2012 and far above the 8,000 that applied for the same position in 1978.
Applications to join NASA’s 2017 astronaut class opened on December 14, 2015 and closed on Thursday, February 18, 2016 – the beginning of an 18-month process that will ultimately see between 8 to 14 persons chosen for a career with NASA in mid-2017.
Before a final selection of applicants is made mid-next year, NASA’s Astronaut Selection Board will review all submitted applications and then select the most qualified candidates after vetting each candidate’s background and qualification. The most qualified applicants will ultimately be invited to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston where series of interviews will be conducted and a final selection of those to report for training made.
These shall be the new NASA astronauts.
“We have our work cut out for us with this many applications,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at Johnson. “But it’s heartening to know so many people recognize what a great opportunity this is to be part of NASA’s exciting mission. I look forward to meeting the men and women talented enough to rise to the top of what is always a pool of incredible applicants.”
The successful applicants will undergo two years of training at Johnson on spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills and teamwork, Russian language and other requisite skills.
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Successful graduates at the training will be assigned from the Astronaut Office at Johnson to work on one of four spacecraft that include the International Space Station, NASA’s Orion spacecraft for deep space exploration, or one of two American-made commercial crew spacecraft currently in development – Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner or the SpaceX Crew Dragon.