posted January 13, 2020 02:53 PM
It has been more than two years in the making, but 13 new astronauts have finally joined NASA under the mission that will bring the first female to the moon -and some may be the first humans to step on Mars.
The candidates, who have been training since 2017, participated in the first public graduation ceremony for astronauts on Friday at the American space Agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The group includes six women and seven men, two of them were Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts, and all were chosen from record-setting pool of more than 18,000 applicants.
During the ceremony, each of the bright-eyed graduates were given a silver pin that symbolizes the Mercury 7 – NASA's first astronaut group that was selected in 1959.
They will then be awarded a gold pin once they completed their first spaceflights.
NASA is set to send the first woman and next man to the surface on the Moon by 2024 in the Artemis mission, with plans for additional lunar missions once a year thereafter and a human exploration of Mars is targeted for the mid-2030s.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said at the ceremony: 'These individuals represent the best of America, and what an incredible time for them to join our astronaut corps.'
'2020 will mark the return of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, and will be an important year of progress for our Artemis program and missions to the Moon and beyond.'
For two years, the candidates trained in instruction, practice, and testing in spacewalking, robotics, International Space Station systems, T-38 jet proficiency and Russian language.
The new skills will help them develop spacecraft, support the teams currently in space and ultimately join the ranks of only about 500 people who have had the honor of going into space.
John Cornyn, Ted Cruz posing for a photo: During the ceremony, each of the bright-eyed graduates were given a silver pin that symbolizes the Mercury 7 – the NASA's first astronaut group selected in 1959. They will then be awarded a gold pin once they completed their first spaceflights
During the ceremony, each of the bright-eyed graduates were given a silver pin that symbolizes the Mercury 7 – the NASA's first astronaut group selected in 1959. They will then be awarded a gold pin once they completed their first spaceflights
NASA continues its work aboard the space station, which, in November, will celebrate 20 consecutive years of human occupation.
The agency also is gearing up to launch astronauts once again from American soil aboard American commercial spacecraft, and is preparing to send humans to the Moon as part of the Artemis program.
Including the current class, NASA now has 48 active astronauts in its corps and the agency is planning to open the application for new astronaut candidates this spring.
Ted Cruz of Texas, a speaker at the event, said: 'I congratulate these exceptional men and women on being the first graduating class of the Artemis program.'
'They are the pioneers of the final frontier whose work will help fortify America's leadership in space for generations to come.
'I am excited for the opportunities ahead of them, including landing the first woman ever on the surface of the Moon, and having the first boots to step on Mars.'
The Artemis mission, which is set for 2024, will see the first woman and the next man stand on the surface of our nearest stellar neighbor.
NASA says it will use innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.
'We will collaborate with our commercial and international partners and establish sustainable exploration by 2028.
'Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap - sending astronauts to Mars.'
Artemis will be the second major run of missions to the moon operated by the American space agency.
The Apollo missions ran between 1968 and 1972 and saw NASA launch nine human missions to the moon. Six touched down allowing 12 men to walk on the surface.
The first man to walk on the moon was Neil Armstrong who uttered the now infamous words 'that's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind'.
Artemis is much more complex than the Apollo missions as it is a public-private partnership, has multiple layers and uses more robotics than the earlier flights.
For example, when the astronauts arrive on the moon all the equipment and tools they need to carry out experiments and surveys will have already been delivered.
That process and those deliveries will be completely automated and some will be provided by private companies working on behalf of NASA.
Future missions will launch from Earth, stop at the orbiting gateway space station, then leave on a docked lunar lander for the surface of the moon
The station will also be used for closer observations of the natural satellite by visiting scientists without them having to land on the surface.
Artemis missions will launch for the moon on the Space Launch System, the largest rockets ever created.
The crew will be on board a smaller spacecraft called 'Orion' that will fly to the moon in 'a couple of days', according to NASA.
NASA said that while Apollo placed the first steps on the Moon, Artemis opens the door for humanity to sustainably work and live on another world for the first time.
'Using the lunar surface as a proving ground for living on Mars, this next chapter in exploration will forever establish our presence in the stars.'
Although NASA has yet to set an exact year for the mission to Mars, the new crew are said to be candidates to be the first to step on the Red Planet.
The American space agency has noted that this feat will happen in the 2030s and as early as 2035.
But officials hope the moon mission will help humans learn how to live and work in another world and prove capabilities and technology, allowing them to be prepared for the Red Planet.
THE WOMEN AND MEN SET TO VISIT MARS
Kayla Barron: A U.S. Navy lieutenant, originally is from Richland, Washington.
As a submarine warfare officer, Barron served aboard the USS Maine (SSBN 741), completing three strategic deterrent patrols.
Zena Cardman: She completed a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in marine sciences at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Cardman field experience includes multiple Antarctic expeditions, work aboard research vessels as both a scientist and crew member, and NASA analog missions in British Columbia, Idaho and Hawaii.
Raja Chari: A U.S. Air Force colonel, hails from Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Chari served as the commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California.
Matthew Dominick: A U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, was born and grew up in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
Prior to being selected as an astronaut, Dominick was a Federal Aviation Administration flight test pilot and a NASA research pilot at Johnson.
Warren Hoburg: He earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, and a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley
Hoburg is a commercial pilot, and spent several seasons serving on the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit and Yosemite Search and Rescue.
Dr. Jonny Kim: He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, then trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat V.
Afterward, Kim went on to complete a degree in mathematics at the University of San Diego and a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Jasmin Moghbeli: A U.S. Marine Corps major, who earned a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering with information technology at MIT and a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Moghbeli also is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Moghbeli came to NASA from Yuma, Arizona, where she tested H-1 helicopters and served as the quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1.
Loral O'Hara: She was a Research Engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where she worked on the engineering, test, and operations of deep-ocean research submersibles and robots.
Dr. Francisco 'Frank' Rubio: A U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, who earned a bachelor's degree in international relations at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
Rubio was serving as a surgeon for the 3rd Battalion of the Army's 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colorado, before coming to NASA.
Jessica Watkins: She graduated from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, with a bachelor's degree in geological and environmental sciences, then went on to earn a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Watkins has worked at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborated on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.
Joshua Kutryk: A Royal Canadian Air Force lieutenant colonel from Beauvallon, Alberta has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, as well as master's degrees in space studies, flight test engineering, and defense studies.
Prior to joining CSA, Kutryk worked as an experimental test pilot and a fighter pilot in Cold Lake, Alberta, where he led the unit responsible for the operational flight-testing of fighter aircraft in Canada.
Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons: She hails from Calgary, Alberta and holds an honors bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University in Montreal and a doctorate in engineering from the University of Cambridge.
While at McGill, she conducted research on flame propagation in microgravity, in collaboration with CSA and the National Research Council Flight Research Laboratory.