On June 7, NASA introduced its new astronaut candidates at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The astronaut candidates joined Vice President Mike Pence, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, Johnson Center Director Ellen Ochoa, and Flight Operations Director Brian Kelly on stage at the event. NASA chose 12 women and men from over 18,000 applicants.
In his address, Pence said,“These are 12 men and women whose personal excellence and whose personal courage will carry our nation to even greater heights of discovery and who I know will inspire our children and our grandchildren every bit as much as your forebears have done so in this storied American program,” said Vice President Pence. “And to this newest class of astronauts, it’s my honor to bring the sincere congratulations of the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. Your President is proud of you, and so am I.”
The astronaut candidates will return to JSC in August to begin two years of training. Then they could be assigned to any of a variety of missions, including: performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.
The 2017 candidates join an elite group. Including this 2017 astronaut candidate class, NASA has selected 350 astronauts since the original Mercury 7 astronauts in 1959.