NASA’s new astronaut candidates report back to Houston to start coaching

January 10, 2022

— One month after being introduced to the world, NASA’s ten new astronaut candidates are reporting to work to start two years of coaching.

The 4 ladies and 6 males, who had been chosen from a pool of greater than 12,000 candidates, are beginning their new careers as future area station crew members and potential moonwalkers on Monday (Jan. 10). They’re NASA’s twenty third class of trainees and the twenty second to primarily based at Johnson House Heart in Houston since 1962.

“NASA’s Johnson House Heart is the house of our nation’s human spaceflight program. This previous November, we celebrated our sixtieth anniversary right here in Houston, an amazing milestone within the historical past of the U.S. area program,” stated Vanessa Wyche, director of Johnson House Heart, on the Dec. 6 ceremony that revealed the brand new astronaut candidates. “Our astronaut corps places the ‘human’ in human spaceflight.”

Those that move the 2 years of instruction will be a part of NASA’s astronaut corps and develop into eligible for Worldwide House Station (ISS) and Artemis moon mission assignments.

“Now we have a number of human spacecraft, so it has by no means been a extra thrilling time to embark in your profession,” stated NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, a former area shuttle astronaut. “We’re very targeted on constructing a blueprint for the way we’ll discover with people, not simply to the moon, not simply onto Mars, however determining the blueprint for the way we’re going to go into the photo voltaic system.”

“That’s what we’re targeted on proper now,” Melroy stated. “We’re going to observe on the moon and we will push out, and that’s going to be your technology.”

Alternatives forward

Astronaut candidate (or “ascan”) coaching falls into 5 main classes: working and sustaining area station methods, spacewalking, robotics abilities, piloting T-38 supersonic jets and Russian language abilities.

Requested by collectSPACE what they had been trying ahead to most, the brand new ascans gave replies that had been as diversified as their backgrounds.

“One of many issues that drew me to desirous to develop into an astronaut was the truth that you get to do all of those various things and discover ways to do every thing,” stated Christopher Williams, a medical physicist whose analysis targeted on growing picture steerage strategies for most cancers remedies.

Marcos Berrios, a fight pilot within the U.S. Air Nationwide Guard with a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics, replied equally.

“I actually wish to study new matters and new ideas, so even studying Russian appears very thrilling to me. Geology, studying learn how to fly the T-38 — it is exhausting for me to decide on one,” Berrios stated. “Going into the pool and training spacewalking in all probability tops the checklist.”

The “pool” is the impartial buoyancy laboratory (NBL), a 6.2 million gallon (23.5 million liter) tank that’s giant sufficient to submerge full-scale mockups of the area station’s main modules, in addition to different spacecraft and payloads as is required. Candidates study the fundamentals of working within the NBL whereas turning into acquainted sporting an extravehicular mobility unit, or spacesuit.

“I really like working with my fingers,” stated Christina Birch, a bioengineer and adorned observe bike owner on the U.S. Nationwide Group. “I really like wrenching on bikes, not simply using them, and so one of many issues I’m actually trying ahead to is being within the impartial buoyancy lab. growing spacewalking abilities alongside my classmates.”

Jessica Wittner, a naval aviator and take a look at pilot within the U.S. Navy, was drawn to the brand new automobiles that she and her fellow candidates will study to fly.

“We get to study the entire ISS methods and we will ultimately get to work with the brand new SLS [Space Launch System] and Orion methods and every thing that is coming on-line. So I believe actually simply studying how every thing works, learn how to keep and function it and efficiently get us there and again — wherever there’s — I believe that is what I am most enthusiastic about,” she stated.

Simply having the ability to fly, particularly utilizing NASA’s fleet of T-38 coaching jets, was the preferred reply among the many ascans. The jets are used to reveal astronauts to dynamic, unforgiving conditions comparable to they could encounter in area.

“I am excited to fly planes. I grew up with ‘Prime Gun,’ the film in regards to the Navy pilots and I like issues that go quick,” stated Andre Douglas, a naval architect and salvage engineer with the U.S. Coast Guard. “I used to dream about flying after I was a child, so I believe that shall be a extremely cool ability set to have and simply an expertise to undergo.”

“I’ve a whole lot of love for aviation,” stated Deniz Burnham, an engineer and supervisor for vitality business drilling tasks around the globe. “I do have my helicopter license and my fixed-wing seaplane license, so I am very curious in regards to the T-38.”

Jack Hathaway, a commander within the U.S. Navy with greater than 2,500 flight hours in 30 sorts of plane, together with greater than 500 carrier-arrested landings, stated he additionally appeared ahead to flying the T-38, however for a special motive than a few of his classmates with much less flight expertise.

“One factor that I am tremendous excited in regards to the coaching is taking folks up flying within the T-38,” he stated. “I’ve finished it solely a pair instances in my profession, taking somebody flying in a tactical jet or quick jet who has by no means finished it earlier than, however simply having the ability to share that love of flight and rise up into the sky — it is a totally different world up there.”

Nichole Ayers, a serious within the U.S. Air Pressure who led the primary all-woman formation of the F-22 fighter jet in fight, was additionally trying ahead to sharing experiences.

“I’m truly most enthusiastic about simply getting along with these wonderful people in my astronaut candidate class,” Ayers stated. “Being a part of the workforce is the most important factor for me.”

Not all new to NASA

A few of the new candidates usually are not solely new to NASA or the astronaut expertise. Douglas, for instance, just lately labored on maritime robotics, planetary protection and area exploration missions for NASA on the Johns Hopkins College Utilized Physics Lab.

“NASA goes to be needing robots sooner or later to assist us [astronauts] with a whole lot of the exploration,” he instructed collectSPACE. “There are going to be locations the place we will not go, there are going to be issues that we have to try this we would not wish to put ourselves on the market first and we’ll want extensions of ourselves to have the ability to see issues that we will not see.”

Luke Delaney was flying as a analysis pilot at NASA’s Langley Analysis Heart in Virginia when he was chosen to develop into an astronaut.

“I solely had a couple of yr and a half at Langley, however after transitioning from DOD [Department of Defense, U.S. Marine Corps] over to the federal government facet, it was nice publicity to how NASA does enterprise. Seeing, on a small workforce degree, how a lot effort goes in and the way a lot knowledge and science was getting completed was loopy,” stated Delaney. “Now to transition into the area, I’m simply actually enthusiastic about that and prepared for this workforce.”

For Anil Menon, not solely are the technical particulars of spaceflight not new, however neither is Johnson House Heart. He beforehand served as a NASA flight surgeon for quite a lot of astronaut expeditions to the Worldwide House Station after which grew to become SpaceX’s first flight surgeon, serving to to launch the corporate’s first people into area in the course of the Demo-2 mission of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“The beauty of SpaceX is that they anticipate you to be a technical professional, in addition to your specialty, so I used to be additionally a flight controller, known as a system operator, for the cargo Dragon. I needed to study so much about Dragon to code procedures,” Menon stated. “What I’m going to do right here [as an astronaut candidate] is need to study Dragon, but in addition study all the opposite industrial companions’ automobiles.”

“I do assume we’re all on equal footing right here as a result of we shall be simply sharing our totally different insights throughout all these totally different automobiles as NASA works to maneuver ahead into Artemis, Mars missions and analysis help on the area station,” he stated.

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