Astronaut candidate Robb Kulin resigns from NASA
First reported by the Houston Chronicle, NASA confirmed that 2017 astronaut candidate Robb Kulin is resigning Friday for “personal reasons” after a year of training, the first to do so in some 50 years.
Kulin and 11 others were selected by NASA from a pool of more than 18,300 applicants. The space agency announced the 2017 astronaut class in June 2017. They reported for their two-year training in August of that year.
According to NASA, Kulin, 35, is an Alaska native. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Denver as well as a master’s degree in materials science and doctorate in engineering at the University of California, San Diego. Before being selected as an astronaut candidate, he was a senior manager for flight reliability at SpaceX and led the Launch Chief Engineering group at the Hawthorne, California company, where he worked since 2011.
The resignation, effective Aug. 31, 2018, would leave only 11 members in NASA’s class of 2017. It marks the first time in since 1968 that an astronaut-in-training resigned. That year, two members of the space agency’s 1967-selected 11-member group left the space agency: Anthony Llewellyn in September for personal reasons and Brian O’Leary in April because of “lack of prospects for a spaceflight,” according to NASA.
According to the Houston Chronicle, NASA spokesperson for the Johnson Space Center, Brandi Dean, said the space agency does not intend to replace Kulin. As such, that will leave 11 members in NASA Astronaut Group 22, which is nicknamed “The Turtles.” The remaining members are Kayla Barron, Zena Cardman, Raja Chari, Bob Hines, Warren Hoburg, Jasmin Moghbeli, Jonny Kim, Loral O’Hara, Matthew Dominick, Frank Rubio and Jessica Watkins.
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity.