NASA selects new astronaut recruits to train for future missions

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NASA has selected 10 new astronaut candidates from over 12,000 candidates to represent the United States and work for the good of humanity in space.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson introduced members of the 2021 Astronaut Class, the first new class in four years, at an event on December 6, 2021 at Ellington Field, near the Johnson Space Center in the NASA in Houston.

“Today we welcome 10 new explorers, 10 members of the Artemis Generation, NASA’s 2021 astronaut candidate class,” said Nelson. “Alone, each candidate has ‘the right things’, but together they represent the credo of our country: E pluribus unum – among many others, one.

The astronaut candidates will take up their duties at Johnson in January 2022 to begin two years of training. The training of astronaut candidates falls into five broad categories: operation and maintenance of complex systems on the International Space Station, training for spacewalks, development of complex robotic skills, safe operation of a T trainer aircraft -38 and Russian language skills.

Once completed, they could be assigned to missions involving research aboard the space station, launches from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, as well as deep space missions to destinations such as the Moon on NASA’s Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System rocket.

“Each of you has an incredible track record,” Pam Melroy, former NASA astronaut and NASA deputy administrator, told the nominees. “You bring diversity in many forms to our Astronaut Corps and have become one of the highest and most exciting forms of public service. “

Nominees included U.S. citizens of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. For the first time ever, NASA required applicants to have a master’s degree in a STEM field and used an online assessment tool. The women and men selected for the new class of astronauts represent America’s diversity and the career paths that can lead to a place in the American Astronaut Corps.

The 2021 astronaut candidates are:

Nichole Ayers, 32-year-old major, US Air Force, is from Colorado and graduated from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in math with a minor in Russian. She went on to earn a master’s degree in computational and applied mathematics from Rice University. Ayers is a seasoned combat airman with over 200 hours of combat time and over 1,150 hours of total flight time in the T-38 and F-22 Raptor fighter jets. One of the few women currently flying the F-22, Ayers led the very first all-female combat aircraft formation in 2019.

Marcos Berros, 37-year-old major, US Air Force, grew up in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. While a reservist in the Air National Guard, Berros worked as an aerospace engineer for the United States Army’s Directorate of Aviation Development at Moffett Federal Airfield in California. He is a test pilot and holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering as well as a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University. A skilled pilot, Berros has accumulated more than 110 combat missions and 1,300 hours of flight time in more than 21 different aircraft.

Christina Birch, 35 years old, grew up in Gilbert, Arizona, and graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biophysics. After earning a doctorate in bioengineering from MIT, she taught bioengineering at the University of California at Riverside, as well as science writing and communication at the California Institute of Technology. She became a decorated track cyclist for the United States National Team.

Deniz Burnham, 36-year-old lieutenant, US Navy, calls Wasilla, Alaska, home. A former intern at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Calif., Burnham serves in the US Navy Reserves. She received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of California at San Diego and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Burnham is an experienced leader in the energy industry, managing on-site drilling projects across North America, including Alaska, Canada and Texas.

Luc Delaney, 42-year-old major, retired, US Marine Corps, grew up in Debary, Florida. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of North Florida and an MS in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He is a distinguished naval aviator who has participated in exercises throughout the Asia-Pacific region and conducted combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As a test pilot, he performed numerous weapon system integration assessment flights and served as a test pilot instructor. Delaney most recently worked as a research pilot at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where he supported airborne science missions. Including his career at NASA, Delaney has logged more than 3,700 flight hours on 48 models of jet, propeller and rotary wing aircraft.

André Douglas, 35 years old, is from Virginia. He received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the US Coast Guard Academy, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, an MS in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the University of Michigan, an MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering . from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in Systems Engineering from George Washington University. Douglas served in the United States Coast Guard as a naval architect, rescue engineer, damage control assistant, and deck officer. Most recently, he was a senior staff member in the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, working on maritime robotics, planetary defense and space exploration missions for NASA.

Jack Hathaway, 39-year-old commander of the US Navy is from Connecticut. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics and history from the US Naval Academy and completed graduate studies at Cranfield University in England and the US Naval War College. Distinguished naval aviator, Hathaway has flown and deployed with Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 14 aboard USS Nimitz and Strike Fighter Squadron 136 aboard USS Truman. He graduated from the Empire Test Pilots’ School, supported the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, and was recently appointed potential general manager of Strike Fighter Squadron 81. He has over 2,500 flying hours in 30 types. aircraft, more than 500 aircraft carriers halted landings and carried out 39 combat missions.

Anil Menon, A 45-year-old US Air Force Lt. Col. was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was SpaceX’s first flight surgeon, helping launch the company’s first humans into space during NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission and creating a medical organization to support the human system in future. missions. Prior to that, he served NASA as the crew’s surgeon on various expeditions taking astronauts to the International Space Station. Menon is an emergency physician in active practice with additional training in wild and aerospace medicine. As a medical doctor, he was a first responder during the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2015 Nepal earthquake and the 2011 Reno airshow crash. In the Air Force, Menon supported the 45th Space Wing as an air surgeon; and the 173rd Fighter Wing, where he recorded more than 100 sorties in the F-15 fighter jet and transported more than 100 patients as part of the squad of intensive care air transport.

Christophe Williams, 38 years old, grew up in Potomac, Maryland. He graduated from Stanford University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a doctorate in physics from MIT in 2012, where his research was in astrophysics. Williams is a board-certified medical physicist, who completed residency training at Harvard Medical School before joining the faculty as a clinical physicist and researcher. He recently worked as a medical physicist in the radiation oncology department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He was the chief physicist of the Institute’s MRI-Guided Adaptive Radiation Therapy program. His research has focused on the development of image guidance techniques for cancer treatments.

Jessica Wittner, 38-year-old Lieutenant Commander, US Navy, is from California with a distinguished active-duty career as a naval aviator and test pilot. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Arizona and a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the US Naval Postgraduate School. Wittner served as a naval officer on an officer enlistment program and operatively served F / A-18 fighter jets with Strike Fighter Squadron 34 in Virginia Beach, Va., And the Strike Fighter Squadron 151 in Lemoore, California. A graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School, she also worked as a test pilot and project officer with Air Test and Assessment Squadron 31 in China Lake, California.

With the addition of these 10 members of the 2021 Astronaut Candidate Class, NASA has now selected 360 astronauts since the first Mercury Seven in 1959.

“We have made many giant steps over the past 60 years, achieving President Kennedy’s goal of sending a man to the moon,” said Johnson Center director Vanessa Wyche. “Today we go deeper into the stars as we head to the Moon and Mars again with NASA’s newest class of candidate astronauts.”


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