Space enthusiasts rejoice because NASA's all set to recruit astronauts for their Astronaut Candidate Program.
The agency announced Tuesday that it was accepting applications for their first candidate class since the space shuttle fleet retired last summer. Recruitment will happen right through January 2012. About 15 will be selected by 2013, after which training will begin that summer.
NASA launched its full scale recruitment program at its headquarters in Washington. The campaign included YouTube and Twitter as part of their multimedia drive to initiate fresh recruitment of candidates.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, For 50 years, American astronauts have led the exploration of our solar system. He further added, Today we are getting a glimpse of why that will remain true for the next half-century. Make no mistake about it, human space flight is alive and well at NASA.
Bolden spoke about opportunities for the selected candidates. New astronauts get to fly to the International Space Station and possibly explore farther destinations.
The reason for NASA's initiative is because the past few decades have witnessed many veteran astronauts leaving the agency. The well-publicized scheme also dismisses any delusions about Americans not going into space anymore.
To counteract NASA's lack in shuttle services, the agency earlier announced hiring private contractors for transport as well as buying a range of services and equipment for space operations.
NASA stated that out of the thousands of applications expected to come in, only 15 will be selected. Out of which, maybe one will leave on an expedition to the Mars.
The application process requires the prospective astronaut to hold a bachelor's degree in engineering, science or math and three years of relevant professional experience. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen and attend a medical examination. Teachers and doctors are also encouraged to apply. As expected, the selection procedure is lengthy.