NASA Announces 10 New Astronaut Candidates for Future Space Stations and Lunar Missions

HOUSTON – NASA revealed to members of its new class of astronaut candidates that they could one day help establish a sustainable presence on the moon.

The four women and six men named Monday (December 6) make up the 23rd pool of astronaut candidates for the US space agency since the original Mercury 7 was chosen in 1959 and the first to be recruited since the start of the lunar program. Artemis from NASA. The new class of 10 was cut down from a pool of more than 12,000 applicants after an extended recruitment process that began in March 2020 and was delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The astronaut candidates, or “ascans” for short, were announced at a ceremony held at Ellington Field, NASA’s flight operations base, located near the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Agency leaders, including Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, presided over the event, which was set against the backdrop of some of the same T-38 supersonic jets that the Ascan will use for training.

Related: How to Become an Astronaut

NASA’s 23rd Astronaut Candidate Class poses with NASA leaders and Congressional officials at Ellington Field near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, at the end of their announcement ceremony on Monday, December 6, 2021. (Image credit:

“Today we welcome 10 new explorers, 10 members of the Artemis generation, NASA’s 2021 class of astronaut candidates,” said Nelson. “Alone, each candidate has ‘the right thing’, but together they represent our country’s creed: E pluribus unum – of many, one.”

Candidates are scheduled to report to Johnson in January to begin their training in spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills, and other disciplines necessary for spaceflight. After graduating from two years of basic instruction, members of Group 23 will be eligible for a variety of assignments, including conducting research on the International Space Station, launching commercial spacecraft to commercial outposts in low Earth orbit. and embarking on deep space missions on board. NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

Some of the candidates may become members of NASA’s Artemis team, a subset of the agency’s astronaut bureau, assigned to prepare for humans to return to the moon and ultimately launch themselves to Mars.

Related: What It’s Like To Become A NASA Astronaut: 10 Facts

NASA’s 2021 class of astronaut candidates: Nichole Ayers, Marcos Berríos, Christina Birch, Deniz Burnham, Luke Delaney, Andre Douglas, Jack Hathaway, Anil Menon, Christopher Williams and Jessica Wittner. (Image credit: NASA)

The candidates include seven military officers, two scientists, two doctors, and a research pilot. Are:

  • Nichole Ayers is a 32-year-old Commander in the US Air Force from Colorado with a master’s degree in computational and applied mathematics. Ayers, one of the few women currently flying the F-22 fighter jet, led the aircraft’s first formation comprised exclusively of women in combat.
  • Marcos Berríos, 37, is a senior in the United States Air Force. After growing up in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, he served as a reservist in the Air National Guard. A test pilot with a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics, he has logged more than 110 combat missions and 1,300 flight hours in more than 21 different aircraft.
  • Christina Birch, 35, grew up in Gilbert, Arizona, and has a Ph.D. in biological engineering. A college professor who taught science writing and communication at the California Institute of Technology, she also became a decorated track rider on the US National Team.
  • Deniz Burnham is a 36-year-old lieutenant in the United States Navy. She calls Wasilla, Alaska home. A former intern at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, Burnham serves in the US Navy Reserves.He earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and the management of on-site drilling projects throughout North America. even in Alaska, Canada and Texas.
  • Luke Delaney, 42, is a retired major in the US Marine Corps, grew up in Debary, Florida and has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. Delaney, a distinguished naval aviator and test pilot, most recently served as a research pilot at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, where he supported airborne science missions.
  • Andre Douglas, 35, is a native of Virginia with a Ph.D. in systems engineering. Douglas served in the United States Coast Guard as a naval architect, salvage engineer, damage control assistant, and deck officer. Most recently, he was a senior staff member in the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, working on maritime robotics, planetary defense, and space exploration missions for NASA.
  • Jack Hathaway is a 39-year-old commander of the United States Navy. Born in Connecticut, he earned a BA in physics and history from the US Naval War College.Distinguished naval aviator, Hathaway was recently appointed as the possible executive officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 81. He has more than 2,500 flight hours in 30 types of aircraft, more than 500 landings stopped by aircraft carriers and flew 39 combat missions.
  • Anil Menon, is a 45-year-old United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As SpaceX’s first flight surgeon, he helped launch the company’s first humans into space during NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission and built a medical organization to support the human system during future missions. Prior to that, he served NASA as a flight crew surgeon for several expeditions that took astronauts to the International Space Station.
  • Christopher Williams, 38, grew up in Potomac, Maryland. He graduated with a doctorate in physics and is a board certified medical physicist. She most recently worked as a medical physicist in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Williams’ research focused on the development of image guidance techniques for cancer treatments.
  • Jessica Wittner, 38, is a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy She is a native of California with a distinguished active duty career as a naval aviator and test pilot. He has a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.Flew F / A-18 fighter jets and worked as a test pilot and project officer with the 31st Test Squadron and Aerial Assessment in China Lake, California.

The 23rd group of NASA astronaut candidates pose alongside their fellow students, Mohammad AlMulla and Nora AlMatrooshi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). (Image credit:

The new astronaut candidates will be joined in their training by two candidates from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Nora AlMatrooshi, a 28-year-old mechanical engineer, and Mohammad AlMulla, a 33-year-old pilot from the Dubai Police. selected by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) in Dubai in April.

NASA’s Astronaut Corps currently has 44 active members, led by Chief Astronaut Reid Wiseman. With the addition of the new class, NASA has selected 360 men and women to train as astronauts in its more than 60-year history.

“We have made many giant strides over the past 60 years, fulfilling President Kennedy’s goal of putting a man on the moon,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of the Johnson Space Center. “Today we go deeper into the stars as we move toward the moon once more and toward Mars with NASA’s newest class of astronaut candidates.”

To be eligible, new ascans had to be U.S. citizens with a master’s degree from an accredited institution in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field with at least three years of related experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot experience. . -Time in command in jet planes. Candidates also had to pass NASA’s long-duration space flight physical exam.

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