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NASA Introduced 12 New Astronauts from NASA Astronaut Class 2017, Agency Intends to Send Them to Mars

Jun 08, 2017 01:56 PM EDT
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NASA just introduced 12 new astronauts. Today, there are 56 active members of its corps. The new astronauts together with their older comrades will be assigned in the upcoming spaceflights and might even be selected for deep space explorations like the Journey to Mars.

The new batch from NASA Astronaut Class 2017 is composed of five women and seven men. And just like in the movie "The Martian," the new NASA astronauts are experts of various fields such as an ocean engineer and an Air Force commander. Interestingly, one of them is a former SpaceX engineer.

NASA introduced the new astronauts during a special event held at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Vice President Mike Pence was in attendance during the event as well as various Texas representatives. Pence even gave a speech on the future of space explorations and the space agency. According to the vice president, President Donald Trump is "firmly committed" to support NASA's space missions and that the president believes that the country "will lead the way in space once again."

The 12 new NASA astronauts are considered the cream of the crop. This is because they were chosen from more than 18,300 people who tried their luck during the application period one a half years ago.

After completing their training, the new NASA astronauts may hitch during commercial flights to the International Space Station or beyond. With NASA's Orion spacecraft on the works, more humans will lift off from Earth in the future, but the ultimate destination will be Mars.

The NASA Astronaut Class of 2017 includes Kayla Barron, Zena Cardman, Raja Chari, Matthew Dominick, Bob Hines, Warren (Woody) Hoburg, Jonny Kim, Robb Kulin, Jasmin Moghneli, Laral O'Hara, Frank Rubio and Jessica Watkins.

"We intend to send her to Mars one day, folks," Brian Kelly, director of flight operations at NASA's Johnson Space Center said when he introduced the last new astronaut Jessica Watkins.

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