Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NASA's New Astronaut Class of 2013 Announced

HOUSTON, Texas -- Only eight candidates out of more than 6,100 applicants were selected by NASA for the 2013 astronaut candidate class who will begin training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in August.  NASA said in a statement that this class will receive a wide array of technical training at space centers around the globe to prepare for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars. 


"This year we have selected 8 highly qualified individuals who have demonstrated impressive strengths academically, operationally, and physically” said Janet Kavandi, director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center. “They have diverse backgrounds and skill sets that will contribute greatly to the existing astronaut corps. Based on their incredible experiences to date, I have every confidence that they will apply their combined expertise and talents to achieve great things for NASA and this country in the pursuit of human exploration."  


Don't they have to go in space before they are called astronauts?

No.  According to NASA's Astronaut Fact Book, the term "astronaut" derives from ancient Greek words meaning "space sailor," and refers to all who have been launched as crew members aboard NASA spacecraft bound for orbit and beyond. NASA has also maintained the term "astronaut" as the title for those selected to join the NASA corps of astronauts who make "space sailing" their career profession since the inception of NASA's human space flight program, .


It also helped NASA in its nationwide public relations blitz for government funding in the 1950's by calling the original Mercury 7 trainees "astronauts" (and of course, GM didn't mind the term either when the astronauts drove their Corvettes to Kennedy Space Center for training.)


But the definition of an astronaut is not without controversy.  During the 2012 campaign for Florida's U.S. Senate Seat, Republican candidate Connie Mack said while campaigning on Florida's Space Coast that his Democratic opponent, Bill Nelson, wasn't a real astronaut because he didn't go through NASA's astronaut corp training.  Mack characterized Nelson's congressional trip aboard the Space Shuttle as being more of an airline passenger than a pilot.



The new astronaut candidates are:



Josh A. Cassada, Ph. D., 39, is originally from White Bear Lake, Minn. Cassada is a former naval aviator who holds an undergraduate degree from Albion College, and advanced degrees from the University of Rochester, N.Y.  Cassada is a physicist by training and currently is serving as co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for Quantum Opus.



Victor J. Glover, 37, Lt. Commander, U.S. Navy, hails from Pomona, Calif., and Prosper, Texas. He is an F/A-18 pilot and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. Glover holds degrees from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Air University and Naval Postgraduate School. He currently is serving as a Navy Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Congress.


Tyler N. Hague (Nick), 37, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Air Force, calls Hoxie, Kan., home. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards, Calif. Hague currently is supporting the Department of Defense as Deputy Chief of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.


Christina M. Hammock, 34, calls Jacksonville, N.C. home. Hammock holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. She currently is serving as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Station Chief in American Samoa.


Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35, Major, U.S. Marine Corps, originally is from Penngrove, Calif. She is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Stanford (Calif.) University and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Md. Mann is an F/A 18 pilot, currently serving as an Integrated Product Team Lead at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River.


Anne C. McClain, 34, Major, U.S. Army, lists her hometown as Spokane, Wash. She is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; the University of Bath and the University of Bristol, both in the United Kingdom. McClain is an OH-58 helicopter pilot, and a recent graduate of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River.


Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D., 35 is from Caribou, Maine. She is a graduate of Brown University, has an advanced degree from the International Space University, and earned her doctorate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Meir currently is an Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.


Andrew R. Morgan, M.D., 37, Major, U.S. Army, considers New Castle, Pa., home. Morgan is a graduate of The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and earned doctorate in medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md. He has experience as an emergency physician and flight surgeon for the Army special operations community, and currently is completing a sports medicine fellowship. 

Photo Credit: NASA