The new class of 11 NASA astronauts and two Canadian astronauts. Photo: NASA

Newly graduated NASA astronauts are looking to the Moon, the International Space Station and even Mars as possible destinations.

Why it matters: Astronauts are NASA's charismatic public face, and the new class of 11 — known as the Turtles — will be at the forefront of the space agency's plans to return to the Moon as part of its Artemis program.

  • But perhaps more than that, this diverse class of astronauts represents the space agency's hunger for human spaceflight in a post-space-shuttle, post-Apollo world.
  • "If you look back at the Apollo missions, it was this incredible unifying thing," new astronaut Zena Cardman told Axios of her view on Artemis. "And now [there is] the chance to do that — something of that magnitude again — but to do it differently and sustainably; to go and to stay."

Details: The Turtles graduated in the first-ever public astronaut graduation ceremony held by NASA on Friday.

  • Each of the graduates received a pin to commemorate the graduation after about two years of training.
  • In total, NASA now has 48 active astronauts.
  • During their candidacy, the astronauts were put through their paces training for spacewalks, learning the Russian language and figuring out the general ins and outs of becoming an astronaut.

What's next: The new astronauts now await flight assignments as they rotate through various jobs supporting their colleagues on the space station and on the ground.

  • NASA also has plenty of kinks to work out with Artemis as the agency aims to send people to the Moon by 2024. Congress doesn't appear to be supportive of the timeline laid out by the Trump administration.

Go deeper: NASA racing to get astronauts to the moon in four years

Go deeper

Grand jury indicts former officer who shot Breonna Taylor

A memorial to Breonna Taylor in downtown Louisville, Kentucky on Sept. 23. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

A grand jury has indicted Brett Hankison, one of the Louisville police officers who entered Breonna Taylor's home in March and shot her at least eight times, on three counts of wanton endangerment.

The big picture: Taylor's death helped ignite nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations this summer, as protesters demanded justice for her, George Floyd and other Black Americans killed by police. The outrage led to Hankison being fired and the passage of a city law that banned no-knock warrants — two rare consequences after police shootings of Black Americans.

FDA chief vows agency will not accept political pressure on coronavirus vaccine

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn promised that "science will guide our decision" for a coronavirus vaccine at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Why it matters: More Americans are expressing doubt about a first-generation vaccine, despite President Trump's efforts to push an unrealistic timeline that conflicts with medical experts in his administration.

CEO confidence rises for the first time in over 2 years

Data: Business Roundtable; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A closely-watched CEO economic confidence index rose for the first time after declining for nine straight quarters, according to a survey of 150 chief executives of the biggest U.S. companies by trade group Business Roundtable.

Why it matters: The index, which still remains at a decade low, reflects corporate America's expectations for sales, hiring and spending — which plummeted amid uncertainty when the pandemic hit.

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