NASA introduced its newest class of astronaut candidates to the nation at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Tex., giving the media a glimpse of the group of eight potential space explorers.
Four men and four women from across the country were picked out of over 6,000 applications. The candidates this year are Lt. Comm. Josh Cassada, Lt. Comm. Victor Glover, Lt. Col. Nick Hague, Christina Hammock, Maj. Nicole Aunapu Mann, Maj. Anne McClain, Maj. Andrew Morgan, and Jessica Meir. This year’s class had the highest percentage of women in the history of the space program.
“This has been a lifelong dream of mine and it doesn't seem like too long ago that I was growing up on a farm,” Air Force Lt. Col. Nick Hague said. “I submitted my first application a little over ten years ago…my wife and our two boys have been riding that emotional roller coaster over that decade…I’m just ready to get started with training.”
One of the women in the program, Maj. McClain, an Army test pilot and a member of the U.S. Women’s National Rugby Team, gave advice to young people aspiring to join the space program one day, saying:
“We all took very different paths to get here…don’t think so much about what you’re accomplishing but how you’re accomplishing it.”
The applicants come from a variety of backgrounds, stemming from oceanography, biology, medicine, and aviation. Six of the eight have served in the armed forces, and at least two have done research in Antarctica. Christina Hammock, a candidate from Jacksonville, N.C., said her career had one unifying theme, “discovery on the frontiers,” and that the NASA’s overarching goal “is to move us all forward.”
One portion of the NASA astronaut program application requires applicants submit a tweet, limerick, or haiku. Lt. Comm. Victor Glover admitted to submitting a limerick that reads:
“Eyes fixed going off into space/ my mind in awe of the human race/ this is all dizzying to me/because I gave so much blood and pee/ by the colonoscopy place.”
“That’s funny if you’ve had to go through the interview process, specifically the medical portion,” he added.
Learn more about NASA's 2013 astronaut class: