CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami/AP) — For the first time in four years, NASA has a new group of potential astronauts.
The space agency announced its newest astronaut class Monday. Among the lucky candidates: the first female fighter pilot to become an astronaut in nearly two decades. A female helicopter pilot also is in the group. In fact, four of the eight are women, the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected by NASA.
The eight were chosen from more than 6,100 applications, the second largest number ever received.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says these new candidates will help lead the first human mission to an asteroid, and then Mars.
“These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we’re doing big, bold things here — developing missions to go farther into space than ever before,” said Bolden. “They’re excited about the science we’re doing on the International Space Station and our plan to launch from U.S. soil to there on spacecraft built by American companies. And they’re ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars.”
They will report for duty in August at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“This year we have selected 8 highly qualified individuals who have demonstrated impressive strengths academically, operationally, and physically” said Janet Kavandi, director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center. “They have diverse backgrounds and skill sets that will contribute greatly to the existing astronaut corps. Based on their incredible experiences to date, I have every confidence that they will apply their combined expertise and talents to achieve great things for NASA and this country in the pursuit of human exploration.”
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)