NASA Hired Its First New Class of Astronauts in Years to Help Get to Mars

There are 12 new “astronaut candidates” whose dreams of going to space have just come within reach. NASA officially introduced its 2017 class of astronauts on Wednesday afternoon in a briefing from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The agency received a record number of applications in response to its latest call for aspiring astronauts, with more than 18,300 hopefuls submitting their materials between December 2015 and February 2016. That’s about three times as many applications as NASA got when it was recruiting for its previous astronaut class about four years earlier and more than twice the previous record set in 1978 with 8,000 applications. With only a dozen ultimately selected from that enormous pool, the acceptance rate for this crop of space explorers comes out to just 0.07 percent.

The handful of men and women who made it through the grueling selection process will have a couple of months to make arrangements to move to Houston with their families. They are due to report to Johnson in August to begin two years of training that will make them eligible for spaceflight assignments. They join 44 active NASA astronauts. Only 338 men and women have ever held the title.

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