HOUSTON — More than 6,300 individuals applied to become a NASA
astronaut between Nov. 15, 2011 and Jan. 27, the second highest
number of applications ever received by the agency. After a thorough
selection process, which includes interviews and medical
examinations, nine to 15 people will be selected to become part of
the 21st astronaut class.
“This is a great time to join the NASA family,” NASA Administrator
Charles Bolden said. “Our newest astronauts could launch aboard the
first commercial rockets to the space station the next generation of
scientists and engineers who will help us reach higher and create an
American economy that is built to last.”
The Astronaut Selection Office staff will review the applications to
identify those meeting the minimum requirements. Next, an expanded
team, comprised mostly of active astronauts, will review those
applications to determine which ones are highly qualified. Those
individuals will be invited to Johnson Space Center for in-person
interviews and medical evaluations.
“We will be looking for people who really stand out,” said Peggy
Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center
and chair of the Astronaut Selection Board. “Our team not only will
be looking at their academic background and professional
accomplishments but also at other elements of their personality and
character traits — what types of hobbies they have or unique life
experiences. We want and need a mix of individuals and skills for
this next phase of human exploration.”
NASA expects to announce a final selection of astronaut candidates in
the spring of 2013.
The selected astronaut candidates will have two years of initial
training. Subjects will include space station systems, Russian
language and spacewalking skills training. Those who complete the
training will be assigned technical duties within the Astronaut
Office at Johnson and, ultimately, missions.
Typically, the agency receives between 2,500 and 3,500 applicants for
astronaut vacancy announcements. The highest response occurred in
1978 with 8,000 applicants.
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