NASA’s New Astronaut Class Announced

Have you heard? NASA just announced their newest astronaut class. These 10 recruits will spend the next two years in training to prepare for the missions of tomorrow.

Yesterday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced the 2021 astronaut class at Ellington Field in Houston. It's the first new astronaut class in four years, and more than 12,000 people applied from across all 50 states and U.S. territories.

This marks the first time in history that NASA required each candidate to hold an advanced degree in a STEM field and utilize an online assessment tool.

The 10 astronaut candidates will begin two years of rigorous training when they report for duty at Johnson Space Center next month. Their training will focus on five key areas including Russian language skills, T-38 training, robotics, spacewalking, and learning the International Space Station's (ISS) systems. 

Upon completion of this training, the astronaut candidates will become eligible for flight assignment. Missions could include commercial crew flights, deep space missions to the Moon and beyond, and research flights to the ISS. 

Meet NASA's 2021 astronaut candidates: 

Nichole Ayers

Age: 32
From: Colorado
About: This Air Force major holds a degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy and an advanced degree in computational and applied mathematics from Rice University. She has logged over 1,150 flight hours in the F-22 Raptor and T-38 jets. Ayers also headed the first-ever all-female F-22 formation in combat two years ago. Read her full NASA bio here.

Marcos Berrios

Age: 37
From: Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
About: Berrios is a major in the U.S. Air Force who holds degrees in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University, where he also obtained a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics. He is a distinguished aviator and test pilot, having logged 1,300 hours of flight time.
Read his full NASA bio here.

Christina Birch

Age: 35
From: Arizona
About: Birch holds degrees in mathematics and biochemistry and molecular biophysics from the University of Arizona, and obtained her doctorate in biological engineering from MIT. Birch has taught at the University of California and the California Institute of Technology. She is also a pro cyclist on the U.S. National Team.
Read her full NASA bio here.

Deniz Burnham

Age: 36
From: Alaska
About: Burnham is U.S. Navy lieutenant who holds a degree in chemical engineering from the University of California and an advanced degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California. Burnham is a former NASA intern currently serving in the Navy Reserves with leading industry experience in the energy sector. She has managed drilling projects in Alaska, Canada, and Texas. Read her full NASA bio here.

Luke Delaney

Age: 42
From: Florida
About: Delaney, a retired U.S. Marine Corps. major, earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from University of North Florida, and his advanced degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. Delaney is a distinguished naval aviator and test pilot with over 3,700 flight hours logged, including his time as a research pilot at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. Read his full NASA bio here.

Andre Douglas

Age: 35
From: Virginia
About: Douglas served in the U.S. Coast Guard and holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, as well as advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and naval architecture and marine engineering from the University of Michigan. He also earned an advanced degree in electrical and computer engineering from John Hopkins University and obtained his doctorate in systems engineering from the George Washington University. Douglas was working at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab upon his selection. Read his full NASA bio here.

Jack Hathaway

Age: 39
From: Connecticut
About: Hathaway is a U.S. Navy commander and distinguished naval aviator who has logged more than 2,500 flight hours in 30 types of aircraft. He holds a degree in physics and history from the U.S. Naval Academy, and completed his graduate studies at the Cranfield University in England and the U.S. Naval War College.
Read his full NASA bio here.

Anil Menon

Age: 45
From: Minnesota
About: Menon, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, holds a degree in Neurobiology from Harvard University and an advanced degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from Stanford Medical School and another advanced degree in Public Health from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He has worked with both SpaceX and NASA as a flight surgeon for human spaceflight missions to the International Space Station. Read his full NASA bio here.

Christopher Williams

Age: 38
From: Maryland
About: Williams holds a degree in physics from Stanford University and earned his doctorate in physics from MIT. He is a board-certified medical physicist, who at the time of his selection was working as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
Read his full NASA bio here.

Jessica Wittner

Age: 38
From: California
About: Wittner is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy and holds a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Arizona, and an advanced degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. She is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and has served as a distinguished aviator and test pilot who has flown F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.
Read her full NASA bio here.

See the full announcement and learn more about the 2021 NASA astronaut class here.

Watch the video of the ceremony at NASA Johnson Space Center below:

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