Updated 4:59 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 11, 2019

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NASA Chooses 12 New Astronauts; Some will be Bound for Mars

To Mars

(Photo : NASA) The 2017 NASA Astronaut Class: (from left) Zena Cardman, Jasmin Moghbeli, Jonny Kim, Frank Rubio, Matthew Dominick, Warren Hoburg, Robb Kulin, Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, Raja Chari, Loral O' Hara and Jessica Watkins.

NASA yesterday named 12 new American astronauts -- some of whom might be among the first humans to travel to Mars in the next decade -- from among a record number of 18,300 applicants.

The 2017 NASA Astronaut Class consists of seven professional men and five women who are doctors, scientists, engineers, military officers and pilots.  The ages of these astronaut candidates range from 29 to 42.

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The 18,300 people who applied for the job is more than double the previous high of 8,000 applicants established in 1978 when the Space Shuttles were close to launching.

The 12 astronaut candidates will join 44 astronauts already in the NASA Astronaut Corps. U.S. astronauts have not launched into space from the U.S. homeland since 2011 when the Space Shuttles were retired.

 Since that time, America astronauts have traveled to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Russian spacecraft.

NASA said the term astronaut candidate refers to individuals who have been selected by NASA as candidates for the NASA astronaut corps and are currently undergoing a candidacy training program at the Johnson Space Center.

After two years of training, the astronaut candidates stand a good chance of flying to the ISS or being chosen to be among the first crews destined for Mars.

This group of 12 is NASA's 22nd group of astronauts. The first group, the Mercury 7 astronauts, was chosen in 1959.

In total, 350 Americans have been selected to become astronauts. Requirements to become an astronaut include U.S. citizenship; degrees in science, technology, engineering or math and at least three years of experience or 1,000 hours piloting jets.

The 12 are:

*Navy Lt. Kayla Barron of Richland, Washington, a submarine-warfare officer and nuclear engineer.

*Zena Cardman of Williamsburg, Virginia, a graduate research fellow at the National Science Foundation with a specialty in microorganisms in subsurface environments such as caves.

* U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Raja Chari of Cedar Falls, Iowa, director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

* Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115.

* Bob Hines of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a NASA research pilot at Johnson Space Center.

* Warren Hoburg of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

* Dr. Jonny Kim of Los Angeles, a U.S. Navy lieutenant who trained as a SEAL and is completing his residency in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

* Robb Kulin of Anchorage, Alaska, who leads the launch chief engineering group for SpaceX at Hawthorne, California.

* U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli of Baldwin, New York, who tests H-1 helicopters and serves as a quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test Evaluation Squadron 1 in Yuma, Arizona.

* Loral O'Hara of Sugar Land, Texas, a research engineer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

* Dr. Francisco "Frank" Rubio of Miami, an U.S. Army Major serving as a surgeon in Fort Carson, Colorado.

* Jessica Watkins of Lafayette, Colorado, a postdoctoral fellow at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.

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