NASA has added 11 new astronauts to its ranks as it gets ready for future Artemis missions to the Moon and to Mars. These new astronauts had to undergo more than two years of required basic training; these are the first to graduate since the US space agency announced its Artemis program. With the latest graduates NASA now has 48 active astronauts in its corps.
With Artemis program, NASA plans to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon’s surface by 2024. NASA’s ultimate aim with Artemis is to send humans to Mars and this is likely to take place in mid-2030s. The list of NASA’s graduating astronauts includes five women as well.
“2020 will mark the return of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, and will be an important year of progress for our Artemis program and missions to the Moon and beyond These individuals represent the best of America, and what an incredible time for them to join our astronaut corps,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a press statement.
The graduating astronauts each received silver pin as part of a tradition dating back to the Mercury 7 astronauts, who were selected in 1959. The astronauts get a gold pin once they complete their first spaceflights. This was also the first public graduation ceremony for astronauts ever hosted by NASA.
The new NASA astronauts are: Kayla Barron, Zena Cardman, Raja Chari, Matthew Dominick, Bob Hines, Warren Hoburg, Dr Jonny Kim, Jasmin Moghbeli, Dr Francisco Rubio, Loral O’Hara and Jessica Watkins. The qualifying astronauts come from varied backgrounds, having previously been in the US Navy, US Air Force.