NASA on Monday announced the selection of ten new astronaut candidates who might one day walk on the moon or conduct research on the International Space Station within the next decade, according to the agency.
Project Mercury, the first American human spaceflight programme, was launched in 1959 with the selection of seven astronauts by the military. This is NASA’s 23rd astronaut candidate class since then. The announcement of the current astronaut candidate group comes as NASA prepares for its most difficult space missions since the Apollo programme of the 1960s and 1970s, when Americans first set foot on the moon. Artemis, NASA’s initiative to return men to the moon, is becoming a larger emphasis of the agency’s efforts.
In an inside ceremony at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, near NASA’s astronaut headquarters, the Johnson Space Center, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson declared, “Today we welcome 10 new explorers, 10 members of the Artemis generation.” Outside, a strong rainstorm blew through, interrupting Mr. Nelson’s and other speakers’ statements on a few occasions.
Many applicants, including numerous Air Force and Navy pilots, have served in the United States Armed Forces in the past. SpaceX’s medical director, Dr. Menon has been in charge of monitoring the medical status of astronauts who travel aboard Crew Dragon, the capsule that transports American astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Bioengineer Dr. Birch competed as a track cyclist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in the track and field event. Physicist Dr. Williams has worked on cancer therapy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as well as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston for the last many years.
When asked what spaceflight assignment they hoped to earn, several of the astronaut applicants said, “I don’t know.” A test pilot for the Air Force named Dr. Berroos stated, “Any assignment that I can be assigned to,” before putting out another suggestion.
The Ingenuity helicopter, which is now flying on Mars, might be expanded to accommodate two passengers, he believes, adding, “I think it would be fantastic if NASA could scale it up to accommodate two people.” It has conducted 16 flights on the red planet since it first arrived there in February, and it is roughly the size of a baseball with spindly legs protruding from the top.
As he spoke, the crowd, which included members of the astronaut candidates’ families, members of Congress, and NASA staff, burst out laughing as Dr. Berros said he and Ms. Burnham “would love to take it for a spin for study.”
Applicant numbers for this year’s group were about 12,000 persons. It is at this period of increased human spaceflight activity that the new astronaut candidates are being inducted. Rich tourists and private astronauts are travelling to space on a more regular basis, using both government and privately owned spacecraft.
In a 12-day trip to the International Space Station, Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire, and a film producer will launch aboard a Russian rocket on Wednesday as tourists. Afterwards, the space business founded by Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin, will take six passengers, including Michael Strahan, a television personality and former New York Giants defensive end, on a short journey to the edge of space the next day.
They will begin two years of astronaut training at the Johnson Space Center after Monday’s ceremony, where they will learn how to conduct spacewalks outside of the space station as well as the ins and outs of new commercial spacecraft, among hundreds of other tasks that are expected of federal astronauts. In the years after completing their training, they may be assigned to missions such as months-long stays on the International Space Station or moonwalks as part of NASA’s Artemis programme, which is aiming for the first crewed moon landing in 2025.
SpaceX chose the astronauts in accordance with a rigorous selection process. Qualifications included a master’s degree in a STEM discipline, participation in an approved test-pilot school programme, or two years of academic study toward a PhD programme linked to an astronaut’s responsibilities.
The application standards of other space organisations are being altered in order to draw from a larger pool of possible astronauts. Japanese space agency JAXA said in November that it will recruit its first set of seven astronauts in 13 years, bringing the total number of astronauts recruited in the country to seven. In accordance with the NHK, Japan’s state-owned television network, the agency has removed the requirement that candidates have a four-year university degree in a natural scientific discipline. A new round of astronaut recruitment was launched by the European Space Agency in February. When the company made their statement, they said that they want to broaden their pool of applicants to include more women and persons with impairments.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the induction of the NASA astronaut class. Both Raja Chari and Kayla Barron, two of its members, are now stationed on the International Space Station. Their class, the 22nd, and additional members of that class may also be eligible for missions to the moon.