Cool Stuff: ISS Selects 8 Astronauts

Women make up half of 2013 astronaut candidates

July 25, 2013


Want to be an astronaut someday? The job requires you to pass a physical, be a U.S. citizen with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics, and have 1,000 or more hours logged as a jet pilot.

But you’ll need many more credentials to get the job.

More than 6,100 people applied for the eight slots in the 2013 astronaut candidate class. After an 18-month search, half of the slots were awarded to women, making it the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected for one class.

Of the eight, five come from branches of the military and many of them hold multiple advanced degrees in physics, engineering, biology and medicine. Those who make it through two years of intense training will join NASA’s existing corps of 49 astronauts, down from a peak of 149 in 2000, the New York Times reported.

The astronaut candidates include Josh A. Cassada, Victor J. Glover, Tyler N. (Nick) Hague, Christina M. Hammock, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Anne C. McClain, Jessica U. Meir, and Andrew R. Morgan. The group begins training at NASA's Johnson Space Center this August.

Even the candidates were surprised to hear they made the cut.

“I thought ‘Wow, this is an incredible, elite group of people and there's probably no way I’m going to be picked,” Meir told She believes her private pilot's license set her apart from other candidates. After making it to the final round of NASA interviews in 2009, she was not picked. But she didn’t let that rejection stop her from trying again.

“I’ve been saying I wanted to be an astronaut since I was 5,” she said. “So it’s a really humbling experience.”

"These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we're doing big, bold things here — developing missions to go farther into space than ever before," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "They're excited about the science we're doing on the International Space Station and our plan to launch from U.S. soil to there on spacecraft built by American companies. And they're ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars."

Click to listen to prerecorded video introductions from the astronaut candidates and learn about the selection and training process.