Penn State grad student among 12 new NASA astronauts selected

Audrey Hill
June 8, 2017

"It really is a joy for this lifelong NASA fan to be standing here at the Johnson Space Center", Pence said. She has worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and was a collaborator on the Mars rover Curiosity, according to an official biography released by NASA.

But unlike a typical short-duration shuttle mission, the new astronauts can expect long stays in space, either aboard the station or on deep space voyages, whenever they get a chance to fly.

The U.S. now maintains a continuous presence in low-Earth orbit on the International Space Station, but NASA is financially committed to support the operation and maintenance of the station only through 2024.

Hines, 42, was a research pilot at NASA's Johnson Space Center. They won't be launching into space anytime soon, but instead starting their two years of training at Johnson Space Center in August.

Twelve candidates were chosen, and after two years of training, they could potentially travel to the International Space Station, the moon or even Mars on NASA's next-generation Orion spacecraft.

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The seven men and five women who will be part of the United States space program as it presses on to Mars and other deep-space destinations in the coming decades include military pilots, emergency physicians and marine biologists. And he mentioned that NASA would continue to collaborate with the commercial space industry in the future. He offered President Donald Trump's congratulations and noted the president is "firmly committed to NASA's noble mission, leading America in space".

Raja Chari of Cedar Falls, Iowa, an Air Force colonel and astronautical engineer. US astronauts have not launched from home soil since 2011, thus the low head count. And Robb Kulin, once an ice driller in Antarctica, will give up his work as an engineer at SpaceX.

If that schedule holds, at least some of the members of the Class of 2017 are likely to go on those deep-space journeys. He continued on to earn a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

Astronaut William Anders (second from left) awaits the launch of Apollo 11 in 1969 with vice-president Spiro Agnew (second from right) and NASA administration Thomas Paine (far left).

"I'm especially interested in life that lives in oddball environments on Earth, the extremophiles", Cardman said after learning she was an astronaut finalist.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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