Record 18,300 apply for NASA astronaut training [2016/03/02 14:05]

More than 18,300 people have applied for 14 or fewer spots in NASA’s next astronaut class, breaking the 1978 record of 8,000 applicants.

The prospective astronauts all submitted their applications between Dec. 14 and when the application period closed on Feb. 18.
The total number is close to triple the applicants for NASA’s most recent astronaut class, in 2012, when the application pool stood at 6,300.

“It‘s not at all surprising to me that so many Americans from diverse backgrounds want to personally contribute to blazing the trail on our journey to Mars,” NASA official Charles Bolden said in a statement.

“A few exceptionally talented men and women will become the astronauts chosen in this group who will once again launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft,” he said.

Bolden himself is a former astronaut, selected as one of a class of 19 in 1980.

Over the next 18 months, NASA’s astronaut-selection board will narrow the applicants down, and the top applicants will go through interview sessions at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Ultimately, NASA will select a final set of eight to 14 astronaut candidates to begin training.

The training process will take about two years, and will include training on spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills and teamwork, Russian language and other essential skills.

Those who make it through the training will be assigned to the International Space Station, NASA’s Orion spacecraft or other space programs.
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