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NASA presents the new class of astronauts of 2021

What It Takes to Be an Astronaut: The Real 'Right Stuff'

The 10 astronaut candidates, the first new astronaut class in four years, were selected from more than 12,000 candidates. Agency Administrator Bill Nelson presented them live from Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where the candidates will spend most of the next two years training starting in January 2022.

“Today we welcome 10 new explorers, 10 members of the Artemis generation, NASA’s astronaut candidates for 2021,” Nelson said. “Alone, each candidate has the ‘right stuff,’ but together they represent our nation’s principle: E pluribus unum – of many, one.”

This is the first time NASA has required its astronaut candidates to have a master’s degree in a STEM field. To apply, they must be US citizens from all 50 US states or territories.

“Each of you has an amazing background,” said Pam Melroy, a former NASA astronaut and the space agency’s deputy administrator. “You have brought diversity to our astronaut corps in so many ways and you have reached one of the highest and most exciting forms of public service.”

During training, the class will focus on understanding how to operate the space station’s many complex systems, develop robotics skills, learn Russian language skills, train for spacewalks, and T- 38 How to Fly a Training Airplane

“We’ve made many great leaps in the past 60 years, fulfilling President Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon,” said Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wich. “Today we learn more about the stars as we head once again to the moon and to Mars with a new class of NASA astronaut candidates.”

In addition, two UAE crew members will train with the new Class of 2021 at Johnson Space Center. Noura Al Matrushi and Mohammed Al Moula were selected as the two new astronauts for the UAE in April. Al Matrooshi is the first female Arab astronaut.

“Over the next two years, they will train with this class of candidates and strengthen the relationship between our two countries,” Nelson said.

Meet the Class of 2021.

The final class of astronauts includes four men and six women and comes from Alaska to Puerto Rico.

Nicole AyersThe 32-year-old is a US Air Force commander and veteran fighter pilot who has flown the T-38 and F-22 Raptor fighter jets. The Colorado native led the first F-22 female combat training in 2019. Ayers also has degrees in computer science and applied math, and minored in Russian.

What It Takes to Be an Astronaut: The Real 'Right Stuff'

Mark BerriosA 37-year-old senior in the U.S. Air Force, he is a test pilot with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics. He grew up in Guanabo, Puerto Rico and has flown on 21 different airplanes.

Christina BirchThe 35-year-old has degrees in mathematics, biochemistry and molecular biophysics and a doctorate in biological engineering. In addition to teaching bioengineering at the University of California, Riverside, the Arizona native is also a U.S. national team track cyclist and…

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