Certainly a great time to get off of Earth for a little while…
At the beginning of March, NASA opened its doors for applications from anyone who thought they had the chops to be a bona-fide astronaut. As it turns out, quite a few people think they have the chops, because now that the application process has ended, NASA has over 12,000 applications to sort through.
Despite the high number of applicants and stricter-than-usual application requirements, NASA is pretty excited about the overwhelmingly positive response. “We’re able to build such a strong astronaut corps at NASA because we have such a strong pool of applicants to choose from,” said Anne Roemer, NASA’s manager of the Astronaut Selection Board. “It’s always amazing to see the diversity of education, experience and skills that are represented in our applicants.”
NASA hasn’t actually specified how many applicants will be accepted into the program, but whoever does will be part of the first Artemis Missions to the moon and, with any luck, beyond. Though, if anyone was hoping to get off-world in a prompt fashion, they might be disappointed, as the missions aren’t supposed to begin for another few years.
“We’ve entered a bold new era of space exploration with the Artemis program, and we are thrilled to see so many incredible Americans apply to join us,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a public statement. “The next class of Artemis Generation astronauts will help us explore more of the moon than ever before and lead us to the Red Planet.”
The final selection of the Artemis Generation is expected to occur sometime in mid-2021 (provided current circumstances don’t substantially slow the process).