A total of 12,000 applicants applied to become astronauts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
A total of 12,000 applicants applied to become astronauts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The applications were received to become a part of NASA’s Artemis Generation division, which showcases the agency’s renewed focus on sending humans on the Moon and Mars, Space.com reported. The number of applications is the second-highest tally of applications received by the American space agency from aspiring astronauts. In 2016, the agency had received a record number of 18,300 applications for its astronaut class which successfully graduated early this year in January.
The drop in number of applications can be attributed to the fact that NASA had upgraded the criteria for eligibility allowing only those with a Masters in Science, Maths or Engineering to apply for the post. It had also curtailed the window to apply for the job — reducing it from 2 months earlier to one month this time.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine was quoted by Space.com as saying that this was a whole new era of space exploration that was being ushered with Artemis Generation, and the agency was very excited to have received applications from so many exceptional and incredible candidates. He further said that the new class of astronauts will help the agency explore more about the Moon than before and lead the agency to the Red Planet. NASA had opened the registration process for applications on March 2 and the agency expected to receive a large number of candidates. The registrations came to a close on March 31. After decades of flying low in the Earth’s orbits, the agency is again aiming high for the Moon program with the Artemis program. The mission aims to send the next man and the first woman to the Moon by the year 2024.
The grinding task of selecting a handful of applicants out of the 12,000 applications will ensue after which the agency will announce the final selection. Anne Roemer, Manager of the Astronaut Selection Board told Space.com that they have a very diverse and strong pool of applicants to choose from. The long process of selection will culminate by mid-2021. The chosen few will be trained for the next two-and-a-half-years before they get ready to embark on space missions. The wait to become part of a space crew doesn’t end there as vigorous cut-throat competition for becoming part of the crew ensues.