Vice President Mike Pence welcomed a new class of astronaut candidates to NASA on Wednesday.
The twelve candidates, seven men and five women, were selected from more than 18,000 applicants. NASA officials say that’s more than double the greatest number of applicants ever received before.
“These are 12 men and women whose personal excellence and personal courage will carry our nation to even greater heights and discovery, who I know will inspire our children and grandchildren every bit as much as your forbearance have done in this storied American program,” said Pence.
During his speech at the Johnson Space Center, the Vice President said the current administration is committed to giving NASA the resources and support it needs to make history.
He also announced the recreation of a new National Space Council, which was disbanded decades ago. Pence said he plans to chair the council, which will advise the president on space policy.
“Under President Donald Trump, America will lead in space once again and the world will marvel,” he said.
In order to be considered for the 2017 astronaut class, applicants had to meet three requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree in engineering, science, or math
- 3+ years of related professional experience, or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft
- Ability to pass the NASA Astronaut physical
The chosen candidates will begin training in Houston in August.
Only one soon-to-be-astronaut already calls the Houston area home: Loral O’Hara from Sugar Land.
“Growing up in Houston, I had the Johnson Space Center just down the road,” she said. “Those early experiences really hooked me, and are a big part of what ignited the dream of becoming an astronaut.”
The other candidates are Kayla Barron, Zena Cardman, Air Force Lt. Col. Raja Chari, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick, Bob Hines, Warren “Woody” Hoburg, Jonathan Kim, Robb Kulin, Marine Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli, U.S. Army Maj. Francisco Rubio, and Jessica Watkins.
After completing the two year program, the astronauts will be assigned to one of four different spacecrafts, including the International Space Station, NASA’s Orion Spacecraft, or one of two commercial crew spacecrafts currently in development.