Final frontier: 244 airmen still in running to become astronauts


Roughly 300 airmen applied to become astronauts after NASA opened up the application process last December. And in March, a nomination board whittled those candidates down to the remaining 244.

As a young girl in Maryland, Angela Motlagh watched her father go off to work every day to his job as an electrical engineer for NASA — and once, in the early 1980s, watched him come tantalizingly close to becoming an astronaut.
Today, Motlagh hopes to go even farther than her dad and make it all the way to outer space. Motlagh, now a major who works as a program manager in the battle management directorate at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, is one of 244 airmen competing for a chance to become astronauts.
Roughly 300 airmen applied to become astronauts after NASA opened up the application process last December. And in March, a nomination board whittled those candidates down to the remaining 244.
But from here on in, the competition is going to be extremely stiff. Airmen like Motlagh will now go up against thousands of other candidates from the rest of the military and the civilian world, said Hanscom spokesman Mark Wyatt.
Wyatt didn't know how many total candidates have applied this time, but the last astronaut class in 2013 drew more than 6,000 candidates. Of those, only eight were ultimately chosen to become astronauts.
Source: Internet
Between now and September, Wyatt said, NASA will review all the candidates to determine who is the most highly qualified. He didn't know how many they will choose during this round, but said it will probably be a few hundred. NASA will then get further references from those candidates' supervisors, and decide which ones it wants to move on to the next phase.
In February 2017, the remaining candidates will go to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for their initial interviews, medical evaluations and orientation. The finalists will be named in June 2017 and will report to NASA in August 2017 for a one-year training and education program. After that, they will begin a five-year tour with NASA.
Newly-selected astronauts will have the opportunity to fly to the International Space Station for long-duration missions. They also will help develop new launch vehicles and spacecraft for NASA, and help plan for future space exploration operations.
NASA plans to choose anywhere from nine to 15 astronaut candidates this time.Maj. Angela Motlagh
Maj. Angela Motlagh (Photo: Air Force)
Motlagh, who has an electrical engineering degree and has been in the Air Force for 12 years, is the only candidate from Hanscom, Wyatt said. If selected, she will be a NASA mission specialist.
Motlagh said in a Wednesday release that her father — who was one of 16 civilian finalists when he tried to become an astronaut — inspired her to try for her astronaut wings.
"I'm excited at this opportunity to follow in his footsteps," Motlagh said. "While I am a long way from being selected, I am tremendously grateful and humbled to be selected as one of the Air Force nominees. If it were not for my parents, who were tremendous role models to me and my brothers and sisters, I would not be in the position I'm in today."
Airmen who have reached outer space include legendary Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Jack Swigert, and three of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, Gordon Cooper, Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Donald "Deke" Slayton.
Source: Internet
To qualify as an astronaut applicant, airmen needed to be on active duty, U.S. citizens, and have at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, mathematics, biological science or physical science from an accredited institution. They also must have had at least three years of progressively more responsible professional experience, or, for pilots, at least 1,000 hours as pilot-in-command of a jet aircraft.

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