Nasa unveils new class of aspiring astronauts: who they are

The team could leave for future missions to the Moon and Space. The U.S. space agency has selected the 10 people from more than 12,000 applicants.

Nasa has unveiled its new class of aspiring astronauts, who could fly to the space station and for future missions to the Moon. The ten people who were chosen, four women and six men, passed a complex selection process that included several types of interviews, team exercises, a thorough medical checkup and aptitude tests. The group was selected from about 12,000 applicants and, now, they will have to undergo two years of training before graduating.

The New Astronauts Training Program

The group will participate in what is known as the Basic Astronaut Candidate Training Program, designed to develop the knowledge and skills they will need once they are selected for a flight. Candidates will be required to complete military water survival exercises, fly Nasa's T-38 training jets and become divers to be prepared for possible spacewalks. Training will take place in a huge pool at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and there is no guarantee that all ten will actually become astronauts. Completion of training to a satisfactory level is required for final selection.

Those who graduate become eligible for flights to the ISS and the Moon, provided Nasa's Artemis program is not delayed. However, they are unlikely to be assigned to missions immediately upon completion of their two years of training. They will probably continue for another period to hone their skills even after they graduate.

Who are the ten aspiring astronauts chosen by Nasa

The six men and four women range in age from 32 to 45 and are members of the U.S. Navy, engineers and doctors. The youngest is Nichole Ayers, a U.S. Air Force major from Colorado. Then there are 35-year-olds Christina Birch, a former track cyclist with a doctorate in biological engineering, and Andre Douglas, a Johns Hopkins University staff member who served in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is 36-year-old Deniz Burnham, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and a drilling engineer from Wasilla, Alaska, while Marcos BerrĂ­os is a 37-year-old Air Force major.

Two are 38-year-olds: Christopher Williams, a medical physicist who grew up in Potomac, Maryland, and Jessica Wittner, a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander from California. Jack Hathaway is a 39-year-old commander in the U.S. Navy, Luke Delaney is 42 and a research pilot at Nasa and a retired Marine Corps major, and Anil Menon is a 45-year-old flight expert for Elon Musk's SpaceX company who helped launch the first private flight to the International Space Station.

"Each of you has an extraordinary background," Pam Melroy, a former Nasa astronaut and deputy administrator for the agency, told the candidates. Upon completion of training, some of them could be assigned to fly on one of the two spacecraft the U.S. space agency has developed to fly on the ISS: SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner. Other candidates will be selected for missions to the Moon as part of Nasa's Artemis program.

The U.S. space agency expects to return to Earth's satellite in 2025 and is also launching a program with the goal of installing a nuclear reactor on the Moon.

Stefania Bernardini