By Trishna Buch
The future of space exploration is beaming thanks to the introduction of the new astronaut candidate class. The 12 space enthusiasts were chosen from more than 18,000 hopefuls and were welcomed last Wednesday by Governor Greg Abbott and Vice President Mike Pence.
The newly inducted astronauts—Kayla Barron, Zena Cardman, Raji Chari, Matthew Dominick, Bob Hines, Warren Hoburg, Jonny Kim, Robb Kulin, Jasmin Moghbeli, Loral O’Hara, Frank Rubio and Jessica Watkins—will start their journey at NASA by taking part in two years of training, starting in August. According to an article published by Space.com, the training will be “varied and rigorous.”
“It was an honor to join vice president Pence in announcing the next astronaut class, who will lead the world in space exploration,” Abbott said in a press release.
“Texas has long been at the forefront of innovation and exploration, and the brave men and women at NASA’s Johnson Space Center are a true testament to this. Texas wishes all the candidates well in their future work, and I congratulate them on this tremendous accomplishment.”
The seven men and five women, who were chosen from 18,353 applicants, will be doing research on and learning about the International Space Station. Along with this, they will also learn how to take spacewalks at the Space Center and—
according to Space.com—will “simulate berthing visiting vessels with the orbiting lab’s giant robotic arm.” After two years of training and practice, the astronauts will be eligible for space travel. However, because there are currently more than 40 members waiting for travel, the newly inducted candidates will be performing technical duties while they await their opportunity.
In an FAQ by NASA officials, and reiterated by Space.com, technical duties range from “supporting current missions in roles such as CAPCOM in Mission Control, to advising on the development of future spacecraft.” For anyone not familiar, the term CAPCOM refers to the person who directly communicates with astronauts in space.
Once the day arrives where the astronauts are able to visit the final frontier, they will be able to do so on one of four spacecraft—the ISS, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule or NASA’s Orion vehicle.
“One of the 12 candidates could be the one that takes that next iconic giant leap and says the words similar to what Neil Armstrong said when he stepped on the moon, and brings the entire NASA family, and this entire world, with them” Robert Lightfoot, acting NASA chief, said in a press conference; as mentioned by Space.com.
“That’s what the future is for these folks, and it’s very exciting when we think about it.”
Go online to www.thepostnewspaper.net for more information about the new class.