Out of 18,000 candidates, NASA has selected 12 astronauts who are now ready to go into space and why not set foot on the Moon or Mars.
Eleven Americans and two Canadians joined the ranks of astronauts on Friday to fly to the International Space Station and perhaps one day to the Moon or Mars, at the conclusion of two and a half years of training at NASA. “These astronauts could someday walk on the Moon as part of the Artemis program, and perhaps one of them will be among the first to walk on Mars,” said the administrator of the American space agency. , Jim Bridenstine, at a ceremony at the Johnson Center in Houston, Texas. “They’re the best of the best,” said Jim Bridenstine.
Out of 18,000 candidates, NASA selected 12 astronaut candidates in 2017 (one resigned in the middle of the training). They have since trained themselves from Houston, to go out into space, to handle the robotic tools of the International Space Station (ISS), and they have learned Russian – an essential language for cooperating with the cosmonauts who co-manage the station .
The two Canadians, Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons and Joshua Kutryk, formed with the Americans, a partnership dating back to 1983.
#NewAstronauts officially graduated after completing 2 years of training in spacewalking, robotics, T-38 jet proficiency & more! Now, they may be assigned to missions to the @Space_Station, the Moon, and ultimately, Mars.
– NASA (@NASA) January 12, 2020
The new promotion called “Turtles” has a total of six women and seven men with exemplary CVs, exceptional military officers, many of whom have fought in Afghanistan or Iraq, over-qualified scientists, engineers and doctors. . The group is of an unprecedented diversity, with names of Indian, Iranian, Asian, Hispanic …
One of them is Jasmin Moghbeli, of Iranian origin, graduate of MIT: she piloted helicopters before joining NASA. His comrade Jonny Kim is a veteran of the decorated Navy SEAL commando, who became an emergency doctor at one of the country’s largest hospitals in Boston.
“When I heard about the possibility of becoming a NASA astronaut, I thought it would be an incomparable platform to mark the next generation,” said Jonny Kim, father of three, to AFP.
Jessica Watkins has a PhD in geology and worked in the Mars Curiosity rover team. She is not the first black astronaut, but few have preceded her. “Cultural and social changes can be slow,” she told AFP in an interview in Houston, welcoming the “priority given by Nasa to diversity”.
“They are highly qualified and diverse, they represent the whole of America,” said Jim Bridenstine.
NASA now has 48 active astronauts.
The ISS then the Moon
During the ceremony, in a carefully prepared section, everyone praised the qualities of a comrade, consistent with the image of Epinal of the heroic astronaut: self-denial, courage, self-control, solidarity, and the belief that everyone in America can overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams. What a long way for NASA, a long male – and white fiefdom.
The first astronauts in the late 1950s were all men, military test pilots. It was not until 1983, with Sally Ride, that an American flew into space, twenty years after the Russian Valentina Terechkova.
But the space agency has caught up. The previous promotion, recruited in 2013, was already half female. Two American women are currently on board the ISS, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir.
Russia and Europe are lagging behind, with an overrepresentation of men in their ranks.
Despite immense financial and technological challenges, the dynamic boss of NASA touts the agency’s “comeback” after years of depression, symbolized according to him by the new faces of what he calls “the Artemis generation” – that he wants as glorious as the “Apollo generation”.
Artémis is the return to the moon program from 2024, an ambitious and uncertain calendar imposed by the White House. Artemis, in Greek mythology, is the twin sister of Apollo (Apollo, in English), goddess of wilderness, hunting and … of the Moon.
On the 2020 agenda is the return of manned flights to the ISS from the United States, nine years after the last landing of a space shuttle, but the two capsules, Crew Dragon (SpaceX) and Starliner (Boeing), are still not certified.
The 13 new astronauts will be assigned to a first mission for in a few years, probably first to the ISS, where at least three Americans live permanently. The first trip to the Moon will not be for them: this mission, Artémis 3, will be reserved for the previous generation.
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