Over a year after posting a call for astronaut applications, NASA introduced the 2013 astronaut candidate class on Monday, half of which are female, the highest percentage ever selected in one group by NASA. Over 6,300 people applied for the eight available positions, which begin training Aug.1 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, home of the astronaut corps and Mission Control.
This marks the 21st class of NASA astronaut candidates, all of whom had to undergo a rigorous interview process that included medical, language aptitude, and mobility tests. The eight individuals will join the current 49 active NASA astronauts in the organization's future pursuit of the first manned mission to an asteroid in the 2020 decade, with the goal of one day putting humans on Mars. Currently, the US astronauts' main mission is supporting the global efforts of the International Space Station.
As a NASA representative said during a Google+ Hangout to introduce the eight candidates, the four women chosen were not deliberately selected to represent an equal gender pool, rather they were the most qualified group of people, and a "tribute to women today." Here, an introduction to the impressive women of the 2013 astronaut class.
Christina M. Hammock
Nicole Aunapu Mann
Keep reading to meet the national women's rugby player and the Harvard medical professor that may one day man space missions.
Major Anne C. McClain
Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D.
Additional reporting by Nicole Nguyen