After a quest that has lasted more than a year, NASA has selected eight Americans from a pool of more than 6,000 candidates to take part in astronaut training at space centres around the globe.
The 2013 astronaut candidate class comes from the second largest number of applications NASA has ever received – more than 6,100 entries.
The octet will now embark on technical training at space centers around the globe in order to prepare for future space missions to low-Earth orbit to the International Space Station, as well as potentially heading to an asteroid and Mars one day.
"These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we’re doing big, bold things here – developing missions to go farther into space than ever before," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced today. "And they’re ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars."
The new astronaut candidates comprise four females and four males. They will begin training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in August.
Eight new astronaut candidates
Josh Cassada (39) is a former naval aviator who hails from White Bear Lake in Minnesota.
Christina Hammock (34) is from Jacksonville, North Carolina. She is currently serving as station chief of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in American Samoa.
US Navy lieutenant commander Victor Glover (37) hails from Pomona in California and Prosper, Texas. He currently serving as a Navy legislative fellow in the US Congress.
Tyler Hague (37) is a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force. He is from Hoxie, Kansas.
Nicole Aunapu Mann (35) is a major in the US Marine Corps. Originally from Penngrove, California, she is currently serving as an integrated product team lead at the US Naval Air Station in the state of Maryland.
A major in the US Army, Anne McClain (34) is a OH-58 helicopter pilot and a recent graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School.
Andrew Morgan (37) is a major in the US Army and is also a qualified doctor. He has experience as an emergency physician and flight surgeon for the Army special operations community.
Hailing from Caribou, Maine, Jessica Meir (35) is currently an assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
An eclectic bunch
"This year we have selected eight highly qualified individuals who have demonstrated impressive strengths academically, operationally and physically," said Janet Kavandi, director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center.
She added that the eight candidates have diverse backgrounds and skill sets that will contribute to the existing astronaut corps.