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NASA's newest astronaut class begins training in Houston

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NASA's newest astronaut class begins training in Houston
The members of the 2021 NASA astronaut class are (from left to right): Nichole Ayers, Christopher Williams, Luke Delaney, Jessica Wittner, Anil Menon, Marcos Berríos, Jack Hathaway, Christina Birch, Deniz Burnham, and Andre Douglas. Photo courtesy of NASA

Jan. 10 (UPI) -- NASA swore in 10 new astronaut candidates Monday at Johnson Space Center in Houston -- six men and four women -- who someday may walk on the moon or Mars.

The candidates were "sworn in this morning, kicking off their two-year training," NASA said on Twitter, noting it was the 23rd astronaut candidate class since 1959.

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The 10 candidates will now learn engineering systems of spacecraft such as SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule or the lunar Orion capsule, along with training in orbital mechanics, scientific experimentation and astronomy.

They will also train in NASA's neutral buoyancy pool at Johnson, where they will wear spacesuits in a simulated zero-gravity environment.

Once they are assigned to a mission, training will be more specific.

The prospective astronauts, named Dec. 6, range in age from 32 to 45. They could be eligible for flights to the International Space Station, the moon or Mars.

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However, those who will fly to the moon initially -- including the first woman to walk on its surface -- very likely would come from the existing 44-member astronaut corps because of greater experience and training, officials have said. Of those, 16 are women.

NASA has said the Artemis missions will feature the first woman and the first person of color to walk on the moon.

The astronaut candidates are:

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Nichole Ayers, 32, of Colorado, a major and combat aviator in the U.S. Air Force.

Marcos Berríos, 37, who grew up in Puerto Rico, a major in the U.S. Air Force and a helicopter test pilot.

Christina Birch, 35, originally from Arizona, a biological engineer who has been a track cyclist on the U.S. National Team.

Deniz Burnham, 36, a drilling engineer from Alaska, with the rank of lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

Luke Delaney, 42, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps as a test pilot, from central Florida.

Andre Douglas, 35, a former naval architect with the U.S. Coast Guard from Virginia.

Jack Hathaway, 39, commander and aviator with the U.S. Navy, from Connecticut.

Anil Menon, 45, a lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Air Force raised in Minnesota, who was SpaceX's first flight surgeon.

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Christopher Williams, 38, a medical physicist who grew up in Maryland.

Jessica Wittner, 38, a native Californian and lieutenant commander and aviator with the U.S. Navy.

NASA, SpaceX launch Crew-3 mission to ISS

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches NASA's third crew to the International Space Station at 9:03 p.m. November 10 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

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