Houston Matters

Not A Fan Of Job Interviews? Try Applying To Be An Astronaut

Houston resident Bob Hines talks about being selected for NASA’s 2017 class of astronaut candidates.

Bob Hines - Astronaut Candidate - NASA(Above: Bob Hines is one of 12 members of NASA’s 2017 class of astronaut candidates. Photo: Robert Markowitz/NASA)

In just a few weeks, Houston resident Bob Hines and 11 others will report for two years of training as part of NASA’s 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. That’s pretty impressive considering there were over 18,000 applicants.

Houston Matters producer Maggie Martin talked with Hines on the day after the announcement back in June about the application process and what he’s looking forward to most as he prepares to start training.

Hines said he applied in February of 2016. Months later, he began an intense interview process and medical examinations.

“I can’t think of anywhere else where you apply for a job and find out a year and a half later that you get hired,” Hines said.

Hines already works at Johnson Space Center as a research pilot and relishes the fact that he wont have to uproot his family to follow this dream.

So how did he get the news that he was chosen? On the day he was supposed to get the news, he took a training flight. But instead of his usual companion on the mission, the chief of the astronaut office was in the back seat of the aircraft. Hines said the two didn’t talk about anything related to the decision during the whole flight. But then, when they landed back at Ellington Field, various personnel and several astronauts were waiting for him.

“And they met us outside the airplane and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a job offer for you.’ So it was pretty awesome…and to be able to experience it and be told in person was pretty special,” Hines said.

Now begins the next long journey for Hines — two years of training to be an astronaut. He said he thinks the hardest part might be having to learn Russian.

“Learning a foreign language as an adult is challenging,” he said. “We’re all fairly technically oriented individuals, but that doesn’t really fit into the technical aptitude side of it. So I’ll be interested to see how that goes.”

Seven men and five women (including Loral O’Hara from Sugar Land) have been chosen for the group of trainees. Vice President Mike Pence was at the ceremony at the Johnson Space Center on June 7, 2017, promising that the Trump Administration is firmly committed to NASA’s mission.

These new astronauts will be doing research on the International Space Station, or traveling to the moon or Mars.

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