VIDEO: NASA Introduces Newest Astronauts, Recruits to Conduct Research and Deep Space Missions

By  //  June 8, 2017

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12 SELECTED OUT OF 18,000 APPLICANTS

ABOVE VIDEO: When NASA decided to announce a new class of astronaut candidates, the current members of the Astronaut Corps had something to say—welcome aboard! From down the hall, across campus, out on the road and up in orbit, have a look at the astronauts’ message to the new colleagues who are getting ready to move to Houston and launch their new careers.

NASA announced its 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class on June 7, 2017. The 12 candidates, pictured here at NASA’s Ellington Field in Houston, are Zena Cardman, U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli, U.S. Navy Lt. Jonny Kim, U.S. Army Maj. Francisco “Frank” Rubio, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick, Warren “Woody” Hoburg, Robb Kulin, U.S. Navy Lt. Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Raja Chari, Loral O’Hara and Jessica Watkins. (NASA/Robert Markowitz image)

HOUSTON, TEXAS (NASA) – On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence welcomed NASA’s new class of astronaut candidates to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

The 12 astronaut candidates were selected from more than 18,300 applicants, a record number.

Its previous record was 8,000 applicants in 1978. According the the original press release from NASA, the agency was going to accept eight to 14 candidates.

Doing the math, as they say at NASA, that means the acceptance rate for this class was a mere 0.06 percent of the applicatnts were accepted.

According to one statistic, getting into to NASA, as an astronaut candidate is 74 times more difficlt than being accepted into Harvard, with only 12 that number moves to 100 more times harder than being accepted into Harvard.

ABOVE VIDEO: NASA asked the applicants a lot of questions before picking a new class of astronaut candidates, but they didn’t cover every topic. What is their favorite planet, and what will they take with them to Mars? Have a look at the newest astronauts answering the rest of the questions that America has on its mind.

To apply for one of the eight to 14 open positions, the following three requirements must be met.

1. Be a US citizen.

2. Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, mathematics, or computer science — which was added on for this round of hiring.

3. Have at least three years of related, progressively responsible professional experiences or 1,000 hours of pilot in command time in a jet aircraft.

NASA also recommends that you have an advanced degree.

Current NASA Astronaut Clayton Anderson, who was hired in 1998, applied 14 times before he was accepted by NASA, according to his book, “The Ordinary Spaceman.”

The new candidates will be required to complete two years of training and following their training could be assigned to missions performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and flying on deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

With more human spacecraft in development in the United States today than at any other time in history, future astronauts will launch once again from the Space Coast of Florida on American-made commercial spacecraft and carry out exploration missions that will take humans farther into space than ever before.

The astronaut candidates will report to Johnson Space Center in Houston in August to begin their training in spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills, teamwork, Russian language and other necessary skills.

ABOVE VIDEO: Rising to the top of more than 18,300 applicants, NASA chose 12 women and men as the agency’s new astronaut candidates. Vice President Mike Pence joined Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa, and Flight Operations Director Brian Kelly to welcome the new astronaut candidates during an event June 7 at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The 2017 astronaut candidates are:

Kayla Barron, 29, Lt., U.S. Navy, is originally from Richland, Washington. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge. As a submarine warfare officer, Barron was a member of the first class of women commissioned into the submarine community. She’ll come to NASA from the U.S. Naval Academy, where she has been serving as the flag aide to the superintendent.

Zena Cardman, 29, calls Williamsburg, Virginia, home. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master of Science in Marine Sciences at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Cardman is currently a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow working on her doctorate at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research has focused on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments. Her field experience includes multiple Antarctic expeditions, work aboard research vessels as both scientist and crew, and NASA analog missions in British Columbia, Idaho and Hawaii.

Raja Chari, 39, Lt. Col., U.S. Air Force, hails from Waterloo, Iowa. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with bachelor’s degrees in astronautical engineering and engineering science. He continued on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Chari has been serving as the commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Matthew Dominick, 35, Lt. Cmdr., U.S. Navy, was born and raised in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Dominick was at sea on the USS Ronald Reagan, serving as department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115, when he got the call saying he’d been selected as an astronaut candidate.

SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynski will conduct an exclusive interview with new Astronaut candidate Bob Hines at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Bob Hines, 42, considers Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, his hometown. He graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. From there, he went on to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, and then the University of Alabama, where he earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. He has served in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves for 18 years. For the last five years, Hines has served as a NASA research pilot at Johnson.

Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 31, is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT. He continued on to earn a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkley. He is a private pilot and has extensive experience with wilderness search and rescue efforts. Hoburg will come to NASA from MIT, where he currently is leading a research group as an assistant professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Dr. Jonny Kim, 33, Lt., U.S. Navy, was born and raised in Los Angeles. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, then trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat V. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in mathematics at the University of San Diego and a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Kim is a resident physician in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Robb Kulin, 33, hails from Anchorage, Alaska. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Denver before going on to complete a master’s degree in materials science and a doctorate in engineering at the University of California, San Diego. He has previous experience as an ice driller in Antarctica on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and Taylor Glaciers, and as a commercial fisherman in Chignik, Alaska. Since 2011, Kulin has worked for SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, where he leads the Launch Chief Engineering group.

Jasmin Moghbeli, 33, Maj., U.S. Marine Corps, considers Baldwin, New York, her hometown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering with information technology at MIT, followed by a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. She also is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Moghbeli currently tests H-1 helicopters and serves as the quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 in Yuma, Arizona.

Loral O’Hara, 34, calls Sugar Land, Texas, home. She earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Purdue University. As a student, she participated in NASA’s KC-135 Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program, the NASA Academy at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the internship program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. O’Hara is currently a research engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynski will conduct an exclusive interview with Miami native and new Astronaut candidate, Dr. Francisco “Frank” Rubio at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Dr. Francisco “Frank” Rubio, 41, Maj., U.S. Army, is originally from Miami. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Rubio has accumulated more than 1,100 hours of flight time in helicopters, including 600 hours of combat and imminent danger time. He’s currently serving as a surgeon for the 3rd Battalion of the Army’s 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Jessica Watkins, 29, hails from Lafayette, Colorado. She graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences, then went on to earn a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Watkins has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory and currently is a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborates on the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

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With the addition of these 12 members of the 2017 astronaut candidate class, NASA now has selected 350 astronauts since the original Mercury 7 in 1959.

“These women and men deserve our enthusiastic congratulations,” said astronaut and Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa. “Children all across the United States right now dream of being in their shoes someday.”

“We here at NASA are excited to welcome them to the team and look forward to working with them to inspire the next generation of explorers.”

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