Record number of applicants for space travel positions.
The 2017 class of applicants for the position of a NASA astronaut reached a record number at 18,300, more than twice as many applications as the previous high, according to ibtimes.com.
NASA began accepting applications for candidates on December 14, and closed the process this past Thursday. But it won’t be easy for any of the potential astronauts to make it into the final selection. Somewhere between eight and 14 individuals will be selected from that group, and that’s after a grueling 18-month evaluation process. NASA says it plans to announce the final candidates by mid-2017.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, in a statement, said he was not surprised that so many Americans from such diverse backgrounds wanted to contribute to the blazing of a trail to Mars. “A few exceptionally talented men and women will become the astronauts chosen in this group who will once again launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft,” added Bolden.
NASA will have a review board to assess the qualifications of each candidate, and this board will whittle down the number of applicants. Those considered highly qualified will be selected to make a trip to the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston for a round of additional interviews.
Those chosen to continue into the program will then be subjected to a rigorous training period of about two years that will consist of learning how to operate the various types of spacecraft systems, training on making spacewalks in zero gravity, and other skills. Even learning to speak Russian will be included in the program.
Once that training is completed, the future astronauts will pay their dues as office workers at the Johnson Space Center and eventually be assigned to the different spacecrafts, including the International Space Station or the Orion deep space exploration craft, or maybe onto one of the commercial spacecrafts, the SpaceX Crew Dragon, or the Boeing SCST-1000 Starliner.
The agency received 8,000 applications back in 1978, the previous high, and this year’s number was three times the applications received in 2012. Perhaps the new Star Wars and other space exploration movies in the past few years has renewed the public’s interest in space travel and exploration.