NASA is set to announce its new class of astronaut candidates from the Johnson Space Centre in Houston on Wednesday, the space agency reported. The astronaut candidates, selected from among 18,300 applicants, would begin their training in spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills, teamwork, Russian language and other necessary skills from August. "After completing two years of training, the new astronaut candidates could be assigned to missions performing research at the International Space Station -- launching from the American soil, and also launching on deep space missions," NASA said in a statement.
"With more human spacecraft in development in the US than at any other time in history, the future astronauts... will take humans farther into space than ever before," NASA added. The new astronaut candidates had submitted their applications between December 2015 to February 2016.
The space agency also aims to launch crews into orbit around the Moon, and on missions to Mars in Orion capsules to be lifted from John Kennedy Space Centre by the Space Launch System rocket. The rocket's first unmanned test flight is targeted for 2019, with a first manned flight possibly around 2022.