THIS WEEK @NASA: New Astronaut Class Selected to Train for Future Missions, Next Era of Space Communications

By  //  December 12, 2021

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ABOVE VIDEO: A new class of astronaut candidates, highlighting the next era of space communications, and a new x-ray satellite mission … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

New Astronaut Class Selected to Train for Future Missions

On Dec. 6, we introduced the agency’s newest class of astronaut candidates during a ceremony at Ellington Field, near our Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The 10 new candidates were selected from more than 12,000 applicants.

Next month, they will begin a two-year training program. After that training is complete, they could be eligible for a variety of flight assignments, including Artemis missions on and around the Moon. For more details visit

Highlighting the Next Era of Space Communications

On Dec. 7, NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration or LCRD, and a joint NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory experiment on solar energetic particles rode to space on a Department of Defense mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. LCRD aims to highlight the next era of space communications. It will demonstrate space-to-ground laser communications and will also receive and transmit data from an optical terminal that NASA will place on the International Space Station.

X-ray Satellite Launches to Study Extreme Cosmic Sources

The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer or IXPE mission launched Dec. 9 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from our Kennedy Space Center in Florida. IXPE, a collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency, is the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars. The mission could help scientists answer fundamental questions about extremely complex environments in space where gravitational, electric, and magnetic fields are at their limits.

NASA Remembers Former JSC Director Mark Geyer

The NASA family is mourning the passing of Mark Geyer. Following a cancer diagnosis earlier this year, Geyer moved from his position as center director of the Johnson Space Center to a new role as senior advisor to Associate Administrator Bob Cabana. In a statement on Geyer’s passing, Administrator Bill Nelson called Geyer a giant for human spaceflight who believed we should constantly venture farther into the cosmos for the benefit of humanity.

Agency Leadership Visits Stennis and Michoud

On Dec. 7, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy visited our Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi. Stennis, the nation’s premier rocket propulsion test facility, is where next-generation engines and other hardware for our Space Launch System or SLS Moon rocket are being tested. The next day, they toured the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to see work being done in support of NASA’s exploration missions. Michoud, the agency’s rocket factory, builds components for the SLS and the Orion spacecraft that will return humans to the Moon.

Soyuz Spacecraft Launches to Space Station

On Dec. 8, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, carrying cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and two Japanese spaceflight participants, launched to the International Space Station from Kazakhstan. The trio is scheduled to spend about 12 days on the orbital outpost before returning to Earth.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA