NASA's year-and-a-half search for its next class of astronauts has ended, as the space agency today announced eight candidates, its first new batch in four years.
These eight were chosen from among the second largest group of applications NASA has ever received, more than 6,100. Half of the 2013 Astronaut Candidate Class are women -- the highest proportion of female candidates NASA has ever selected.
"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 NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35, is the first female fighter pilot to become an astronaut candidate since 1994. Helicopter pilot Anne McClain, 34, is also in the group. Victor Glover, 37, was also selected as a pilot.
Physicist and former aviator Josh Cassada, who currently serves as co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for Quantum Opus was also selected.
Also selected were Christina Hammock, 34, currently a station chief for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and Jessica Meir, 35, currently Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School.
Andrew Morgan, 37 has experience in emergency medicine, as a flight surgeon, and in sports medicine. Tyler (Nick) Hague, 37, is a graduate of MIT and the Air Force Test Pilot School and currently serves the Department of Defense as Deputy Chief of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.
Bolden said these astronaut candidates were selected for the expertise and interest in NASA's mission to ultimately get to the Red Planet.
"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," Bolden said. "And they’re ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars."
NASA will discuss the selections at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, June 17, via Google+ Hangout.