NASA Selects Eight New Astronauts For Space Exploration

The eight candidates which have been selected to be NASA's newest astronaut trainees. [NASA image]
For the first time in four years, NASA has selected a new class of astronauts to join the space agency. Four men and four women beat out more than 6,000 applicants to win the new spots.

A physicist, an anesthesiologist, a helicoptor pilot and an E.R. physician are among the group of eight who beat out the second largest pool of astronaut applicants in NASA history.

What may be surprising is the number of people who still want to join the agency even though the space shuttle program is retired.

Johnson Space Center Public Affairs Officer Jay Bolden says in addition to missions aboard the International Space Station, the group will also be eligible for exploration missions to Mars, the moon or even an asteroid.

"I think even though the shuttle was a kind of visible point for folks to be inspired and want to go to space, the aspect of flying and floating around in space in our International Space Station, they're sending great images down, and people are still really excited about flying in space and exploring other planets."

Bolden says the eight new astronauts will spend two years training in Houston.

"Which kind of consists of some land navigation, as well as training and learning how to operate robotic instruments, as well as the space station implements. And doing some EVA practice, or some spacewalk practice." 

They'll also study Russian. The class will report to Johnson Space Center in August.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...