It came to surprise last week when the US Space Agency NASA announced that it has received around 18,300 applications for its 2017 astronaut class. It broke all the records till far. About one-third of this number of applicants applied in the year 2012 and the maximum record was in 1978.
On this report where many were surprised, a former astronaut and NASA administrator, Charlie Bolden, said, “It’s not all surprising to me that so many Americans from diverse background want to personally contribute to blazing the trail on our journey to Mars.”
It has been saying that this rise in the number of applications is due to NASA’s Journey to Mars, also, it was backed with social media. With its 15 million twitter followers, it caught the attention of the space-lovers which resulted into a mass number of applications.
But the fact is a few astronauts will be selected out of this huge number of applicants. The process of selection will be starting soon on the basis of applicant profile. According to a report around eight to fourteen astronauts will be selected and final announcement will be made in 2017.
“A few exceptionally talented men and women will become the astronaut chosen in this group who will once again launch to space from US soil on American- made spacecraft,” said Charlie Bolden.
Selected candidates will have to report to Johnson Space Centre in Texas. There, candidates will be provided training on spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills and teamwork, Russian language and other essential skills. After completing the training, the astronaut will be assigned to one of four different spacecraft.
“We have our work cut out for us with this many applications. But it’s heartening to know so many people recognize what a great opportunity this is to be part of NASA’s exciting mission. I look forward to meeting the men and women talented enough to rise to the top of what is always a pool of incredible applicants,” said Brian Kelly, Director of Flight operation of Johnson Space Centre.
Currently, the sole destination of astronauts is the International Space Station which affords only 4 to 6 flight opportunities every year. NASA has set a goal of sending humans to the surface of Mars by the 2030s, but the according to current budget it is unclear to happen.