WASHINGTON, June 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. space agency says it has selected nine people to begin training in August as NASA's newest astronaut candidates.
NASA officials said they reviewed more than 3,500 applications before selecting the candidates who will train at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"This is a very talented and diverse group we've selected," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations. "They will join our current astronauts and play very important roles for NASA in the future. In addition to flying in space, astronauts participate in every aspect of human spaceflight, sharing their expertise with engineers and managers across the country. We look forward to working with them as we transcend from the shuttle to our future exploration of space, and continue the important engineering and scientific discoveries aboard the International Space Station."
The new astronaut candidates are Serena Aunon of League City, Texas; Jeanette Epps of Fairfax, Va.; U.S. Air Force Maj. Jack Fischer of Reston, Va.; U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Hopkins of Alexandria, Va.; Kjell Lindgren of League City, Texas; Kathleen Rubins of Cambridge, Mass.; U.S. Navy Cmdr. Scott Tingle of Hollywood, Md.; U.S, Army Lt. Col. Mark Vande Hei of El Lago, Texas; and U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Wiseman of Virginia Beach, Va.
More information on the astronaut candidates is available at http://www.nasa.gov/ascans2009.