• NASA introduces the graduating class of astronaut candidates
  • The graduating candidates went through two years of basic training
  • The graduating individuals could be part of the upcoming Mars mission

NASA has officially introduced the graduating class of future astronauts. According to the agency, some of the astronaut candidates will take part in the agency’s Artemis program, which means they will most likely join the agency’s first human mission to Mars.

The official graduating ceremony for the astronaut candidates will take place on Jan. 10 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The event will be broadcasted live through NASA Television and through the agency’s website.

According to NASA, the graduating candidates, which include 11 individuals from the agency and 2 from the Canadian Space Agency, were selected in 2017 from a pool of over 18,000 applicants. For two years, the candidates participated in basic training. This covers various subjects related to being an astronaut such as spacewalking, robotics and International Space Station (ISS) systems.

After their graduation, the astronaut candidates will be eligible to participate in various missions including ISS expeditions and trips under the Artemis spaceflight program. This means that the astronauts who will be picked for the future crewed mission to Mars could come from the current graduating class.

“After completing more than two years of basic training, these candidates will become eligible for spaceflight, including assignments to the International Space Station, Artemis missions to the Moon, and ultimately, missions to Mars,” NASA said in a statement.

As noted by the agency, the graduating candidates will join an elite group of individuals who have been given the rare opportunity to work in space. Although some of them might not be able to get this chance, they will still be able to work with essential systems and teams that make space missions possible.

With the new batch of astronauts, NASA is hoping to extend the presence of humans in space, which will reach its 20th consecutive year in 2020.

“As astronauts, they’ll help develop spacecraft, support the teams currently in space and ultimately join the ranks of only about 500 people who have had the honor of going into space,” the agency stated. “NASA continues its work aboard the space station, which, in November 2020, will celebrate 20 consecutive years of human occupation.”

Astronaut Candidates
The first class of astronauts to graduate under the Artemis Program. They will join the active astronaut corps, beginning careers in exploration that may take them to the International Space Station, on missions to the Moon under the Artemis program, or someday, Mars. The 2017 class includes (top row) Matthew Dominick of NASA, Kayla Barron of NASA, Warren Hoburg of NASA, and Joshua Kutryk of CSA, (middle row) Bob Hines of NASA, Frank Rubio of NASA, Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons of CSA, Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA, and Jessica Watkins of NASA, (bottom row) Raja Chari of NASA, Jonny Kim of NASA, Zena Cardman of NASA, and Loral O’Hara of NASA NASA