NASA announces graduating class of 11 astronauts for upcoming missions to space, Moon and Mars

After 2 years of basic astronaut training, the new batch is ready to train at the ISS and for the Artemis program after graduating 10 January 2020.

NASA is moving hot and heavy with plans for its upcoming Artemis mission in 2024. Starting with the construction of a base on the moon, the space agency is hoping to return astronauts – including the the first woman to set foot on the Moon in a few short years.

With the agency's "Moon to Mars" approach, it is also clear that they don't intend to reinvent the wheel when they set their target for Mars afterward. From the technological elements to the astronauts, NASA intends to replicate as much of the Artemis mission in their future human Mars mission – what they're calling an "open exploration architecture". This form of mission planning will have as many capabilities that can be replicated as possible for future Mars missions, with the Artemis mission and the moon being its testbed.

 NASA announces graduating class of 11 astronauts for upcoming missions to space, Moon and Mars

The new class of astronauts to graduate NASA's basic training on 10 January are here: (Top row) Matthew Dominick of NASA, Kayla Barron of NASA, Warren Hoburg of NASA, and Joshua Kutryk of CSA, (Middle row) Bob Hines of NASA, Frank Rubio of NASA, Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons of CSA, Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA, and Jessica Watkins of NASA, (Bottom row) Raja Chari of NASA, Jonny Kim of NASA, Zena Cardman of NASA, and Loral O’Hara of NASA. Image: NASA

Having completed two years of basic astronaut training, the first batch are ready to train under the Artemis program after their formal graduation on 10 January. NASA has shortlisted a total of eleven candidates out of some 18,000 applicants, and two astronauts from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) who are eligible for future spaceflight mission, which including routine missions to the International Space Station, the Artemis mission, and someday, a mission to Mars.

The chosen 11 for ISS, Artemis and Mars

  • Kayla Barron – an US Navy lieutenant
  • Zena Cardman – a biologist and marine scientist
  • Raja Chari – a US Air Force colonel and aeronautical engineer
  • Matthew Dominick – a US Navy lieutenant, and electrical & systems engineer
  • Bob Hines – a US Air Force lieutenant colonel, aerospace engineer and flight test pilot
  • Warren Hoburg – an Assistant Professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT  and a commercial pilot
  • Dr Jonny Kim – a US Navy lieutenant, ex-US Navy SEAL, mathematician, and medical doctor (emergency physician)
  • Jasmin Moghbeli – a US Marine Corps major, aerospace engineer and flight test pilot
  • Loral O’Hara – an aeronautics and astronautics engineer, marine scientists
  • Dr Francisco Rubio – a US Army lieutenant colonel, ex-Army doctor, helicopter and combat pilot for US Army
  • Jessica Watkins – geologist and environmental scientist, ex-NASA Curiosity mission team member

The two Canadian astronauts that are also due to graduate with the NASA astronauts are Joshua Kutryk (a Canadian Air Force lieutenant colonel, flight test pilot and fighter pilot) and Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons (mechanical engineer and combustion engineer).

All astronaut candidates have completed training in spacewalking, robotics, International Space Station systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and the Russian language, NASA said in a press release. As astronauts, they will be called on to help develop and tweak spacecrafts, support teams that are currently in space, and ultimately join the ranks of the 500 or so astronauts that have actually had the opportunity to really go into space.

The graduation ceremony will be aired live on NASA TV and the agency’s website for interested space buffs everywhere, starting 9pm IST (10.30 am EST) on Friday, 10 January 2020.

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