The latest class of NASA astronauts, recruited in 2013 and already in training, will also be candidates for the first trip to Mars, and for the first time in NASA history, 50 percent of them are female.
The class of is made up of eight recruits in total – Josh Cassada, Victor Glover, Tyler Hague, Christina Hammock, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir, and Andrew Morgan – selected from a pool of around 6,100 applicants. That’s a fierce 0.0013 percent success rate.
The application process alone took 18 months of rigorous medical and psychological testing, and the recruits are now going through two years of training before they’ll officially join NASA’s 46 currently active astronauts.
But what’s really cool is that they’re the first class to be candidates for the mission to Mars. “If we go to Mars, we’ll be representing our entire species in a place we’ve never been before. To me it’s the highest thing a human being can achieve,” McClain told Ginny Graves in an exclusive interview for Glamour magazine at the end of last year.
That training, as you can imagine, is pretty intense, with the candidates learning how to fly T-38 supersonic jets, practicing walking around underwater in spacesuit that weigh 181 kg (400 pounds), and surviving what’s called the vomit comet, which simulates weightlessness through freefall.
They’re also being taught a whole bunch of general survival skills that might help them cope with the myriad things that could go wrong on the Red Planet.