New NASA astronaut class to be announced June 7
After fielding more than 18,300 applications between December 2015 and February 2016, NASA is ready to announce its astronaut class for 2017. Out of that record-breaking number, a bare 8–14 people will be selected to be part of the agency’s next human spaceflight missions. The space agency will make the announcement at 2 p.m. EDT (18:00 GMT), June 7, 2017.
“We have our work cut out for us”
The number of applicants for the 2017 astronaut class was more than double the previous record of 8,000 individuals set in 1978. NASA received applications for the astronaut corps from U.S. citizens in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa.
“We have our work cut out for us with this many applications,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at Johnson Space Center last December in response to the broad popular response to the opening of applications. “But it’s heartening to know so many people recognize what a great opportunity this is to be part of NASA’s exciting mission. I look forward to meeting the men and women talented enough to rise to the top of what is always a pool of incredible applicants.”
Application requirements included U.S. citizenship, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field, and at least three years of related experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.
What happens next
Once on the job, the new astronaut corps members will complete two years of training before joining the pool of 44 active astronauts currently eligible for spaceflight assignments. The new astronauts could be assigned to missions conducting research on the International Space Station, participating in the Commercial Crew Program, and launching on deep space missions on the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
The astronaut candidates will report to Johnson Space Center in Houston in August to begin their training in spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills, teamwork, the Russian language, and other necessary skills. Spaceflight Insider will provide an update about the selected candidates after they are announced.
Bart Leahy is a freelance technical writer living in Orlando, Florida. Leahy's diverse career has included work for The Walt Disney Company, NASA, the Department of Defense, Nissan, a number of commercial space companies, small businesses, nonprofits, as well as the Science Cheerleaders.