NASA Selects Eight New Astronauts For Space Exploration

A physicist, an anesthesiologist, a helicoptor pilot and an E.R. physician are among the group of eight who beat out the second largest pool of astronaut applicants in NASA history.

What may be surprising is the number of people who still want to join the agency even though the space shuttle program is retired.

Johnson Space Center Public Affairs Officer Jay Bolden says in addition to missions aboard the International Space Station, the group will also be eligible for exploration missions to Mars, the moon or even an asteroid.

"I think even though the shuttle was a kind of visible point for folks to be inspired and want to go to space, the aspect of flying and floating around in space in our International Space Station, they're sending great images down, and people are still really excited about flying in space and exploring other planets."

Bolden says the eight new astronauts will spend two years training in Houston.

"Which kind of consists of some land navigation, as well as training and learning how to operate robotic instruments, as well as the space station implements. And doing some EVA practice, or some spacewalk practice." 

They'll also study Russian. The class will report to Johnson Space Center in August.

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