NASA chooses eight new astronauts, four of them women
The eight new astronauts are expected to man some of NASA's boldest, most anticipated new missions, including travel to Mars.
More than thirty years ago, some 8,000 dreamers applied for 35 slots in the Astronaut Class of 1978 – the largest number of applications the agency had ever received. That year, NASA chose 34 men and one woman: Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.
Now, NASA has selected eight new astronaut trainees, half of them women, from some 6,100 hopefuls, the second largest applicant pool in NASA’s history and the highest percentage of women ever selected for the elite cadre of space travelers. The new potential astronauts are expected to be the pioneers that will man (and woman) the first commercial American flights to the International Space Station, and possibly the first human missions to Mars.
"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," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, in a statement.
The selections come just days after the world celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of the first woman into space: Soviet astronaut Valentina Tereshkova. Some twenty years later, Sally Ride, Astronaut Class of 1978, became the first American woman to visit space.