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.

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    After an extensive year-and-a-half search, NASA has a new group of potential astronauts who will help the agency push the boundaries of exploration and travel to new destinations in the solar system, including an asteroid and Mars. Eight candidates have been selected to be NASA's newest astronaut trainees, hoping to be among those who are the first to launch from U.S. soil on commercial American spacecraft since the retirement of the space shuttle.
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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.

The new trainees, all in their 30s, boast impressive and varied backgrounds in the US military and academia and will begin training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston this August.

They are:


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