NASA recently announced the selection of a new squadron of space cadets. They’re expected to be the first “class” trained for missions to deeper space. Namely this batch is likely going to be responsible for a new era in space travel.
The space cadet candidates were chosen from a starting pool of 6,372. Only about ten dozen applicants received the call backs of their lifetime. After extensive medical tests and interviews, the folks over at NASA selected their 8 diamonds in the rough. The members of this celestial octet will be members of a small (yet ever increasing) lineage of human beings who have seen the world from outside.
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The 8 Balls
In accordance with NASA tradition, the last class of astronauts is responsible for the naming of the new class. So when NASA’s 20th group of celestial explorers (aka The Chumps) were given the opportunity they decided upon a much more meaningful name. The 8-balls, named for their importance in winning a game of pool, have a lot of hard work ahead of them.
Their two years of “basic training” consists of vigorous activities- which us groundlings can only begin to imagine. The details so far seem vague. Bob Behnken, chief of the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center has some input on how the training will go:
The astronaut candidates, or “ascans,” will be instructed on the technical aspects of living and working aboard the space station. They’ll also tour NASA’s facilities across the country, “so that the class as a whole will have a good understanding of all the things that go into making NASA as successful as it is,” Behnken said.
First, though, they will be given flight training at the nearby Ellington Field in Houston and, for some, at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., as well.
“They will also have T-38 [supersonic jet] training, where those who already have an aviation background will hone their skills in the T-38 and those who do not will have the opportunity to get that aviation background under their belt before they start supporting crews who are on orbit,” Behnken said.
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Whether or not you consider the gender polarization of this class, it is definitely clear that these new space cadets will be shuttling in the future of extra-worldly travel. Part of their basic training consists of living aboard the space station. That’s right. That’s just the training.
These Space Travelers are expected to travel further out than any other astronaut from the U.S. Eventually, they may even be among the first to travel to a near-earth asteroid and perhaps even Mars!
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Only the future can be sure of what is in store for these folks. Their story is going to be that of awe and wonder.
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