Dec 6, 2021 - Science

Meet NASA's newest class of astronauts

10 astronaut candidates in blue flight suits stand outside on a blue day under green trees. They're smiling.

The new astronauts. Photo: NASA

A SpaceX flight surgeon and an elite track cyclist are among the new class of 10 astronaut candidates, NASA announced on Monday.

Why it matters: "These NASA astronauts will plan, train and fly missions to the International Space Station and to the Moon under Artemis, and eventually onto Mars," Vanessa Wyche, the director of NASA's Johnson Space Center, said during an event announcing the new astronaut candidates.

How it works: The 10 candidates will move to Houston, Texas, the home of Johnson Space Center, to begin two years of training starting in January 2022.

  • Once that training ends, the 10 rookies will become official astronauts.

What's happening: More than 12,000 applications were submitted for this round of astronaut selection. Here are the lucky 10, with bio information via NASA:

  • Nichole Ayers is a major in the U.S. Air Force who is one of a handful of women flying the F-22.
  • Marcos Berríos is a major in the U.S. Air Force and a test pilot with 1,300 hours of flight time in about 21 aircraft.
  • Christina Birch taught bioengineering at the University of California, Riverside, and is a U.S. National Team track cyclist.
  • Deniz Burnham is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and works in the energy industry managing drilling projects in Alaska, Canada and Texas, among other places.
  • Luke Delaney worked as a pilot at NASA's Langley Research center and has logged more than 3,700 hours of flight time on various aircraft.
  • Andre Douglas has worked with NASA during his time at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, focusing on various space exploration projects for the space agency.
  • Jack Hathaway is a commander in the U.S. Navy with 2,500 hours of flight time in about 30 aircraft and 39 combat missions.
  • Anil Menon was a SpaceX flight surgeon and is an emergency medicine physician.
  • Christopher Williams was a medical physicist in the radiation oncology department at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, with research focusing on aiding cancer treatments with imaging.
  • Jessica Wittner is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy and serves as a test pilot and aviator.

1 fun thing: One of the astronaut hopefuls took the opportunity during the announcement to pitch a different kind of mission to Mars:

  • "I think it would be great if NASA could scale up the Ingenuity helicopter that's currently flying on Mars to maybe, you know, fit two people," Berríos said. "I would love to take it for a spin for science."
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