NASA’s astronaut candidates to graduate with eye on Artemis missions

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A new class of astronauts will graduate basic training on Jan. 10, 2020. They will join the active astronaut corps, beginning careers in exploration that may take them to the International Space Station, on missions to the Moon under the Artemis program, or someday, Mars. The 2017 class includes (top row) Matthew Dominick of NASA, Kayla Barron of NASA, Warren Hoburg of NASA, and Joshua Kutryk of CSA, (middle row) Bob Hines of NASA, Frank Rubio of NASA, Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons of CSA, Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA, and Jessica Watkins of NASA, (bottom row) Raja Chari of NASA, Jonny Kim of NASA, Zena Cardman of NASA, and Loral O’Hara of NASA. (NASA photograph)
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NASA will honor the first class of astronaut candidates to graduate under the Artemis program at 10:30 a.m., EST, Jan. 10, 2020, at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

After completing more than two years of basic training, these candidates will become eligible for spaceflight, including assignments to the International Space Station, Artemis missions to the Moon, and ultimately, missions to Mars.

The ceremony will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website [www.nasa.gov]. The new graduates also will be available for in-person and remote media interviews following the ceremony.

The class includes 11 NASA candidates, as well as two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) candidates, selected in 2017. The NASA candidates were chosen from a record-setting pool of more than 18,000 applicants. The CSA candidates have been training alongside their NASA classmates.

NASA’s astronaut candidates are:
* Kayla Barron, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, is originally from Richland, Wash. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. As a submarine warfare officer, Barron served aboard the USS Maine (SSBN 741), completing three strategic deterrent patrols. She came to NASA from the U.S. Naval Academy, where she was serving as the flag aide to the superintendent.

* Zena Cardman calls Williamsburg, Va., home. She completed a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in marine sciences at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Cardman was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow working at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research focused on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments. Her field experience includes multiple Antarctic expeditions, work aboard research vessels as both a scientist and crew member, and NASA analog missions in British Columbia, Idaho and Hawaii.

* Raja Chari, a U.S. Air Force colonel, hails from Cedar Falls, Iowa. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with bachelor’s degrees in astronautical engineering and engineering science. He continued on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Md. Chari served as the commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California.

* Matthew Dominick, a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, was born and raised in Wheat Ridge, Colo. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of San Diego and a master’s degree in systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Dominick served on the USS Ronald Reagan as department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115.

* Bob Hines, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, attended high school in Mountaintop, Penn., but considers Harrisburg, Penn., his hometown. He has a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Boston University and a master’s degree in flight test engineering from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB. Hines served as a developmental test pilot on all models of the F-15 while earning a master’s in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama. He has deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Prior to being selected as an astronaut, he was a Federal Aviation Administration flight test pilot and a NASA research pilot at Johnson.

* Warren Hoburg is originally from Pittsburgh. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, and a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a commercial pilot, and spent several seasons serving on the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit and Yosemite Search and Rescue. Hoburg came to NASA from MIT, where he led a research group as an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics.

* Dr. Jonny Kim, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, was born and raised in Los Angeles. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, then trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat V. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in mathematics at the University of San Diego and a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Kim was a resident physician in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

* Jasmin Moghbeli, a U.S. Marine Corps major, considers Baldwin, N.Y., her hometown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering with information technology at MIT and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. She also is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Moghbeli came to NASA from Yuma, Ariz., where she tested H-1 helicopters and served as the quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1.

* Loral O’Hara was born in Houston. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University. Prior to joining NASA, O’Hara was a Research Engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where she worked on the engineering, test, and operations of deep-ocean research submersibles and robots.

* Dr. Francisco “Frank” Rubio, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, is originally from Miami. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. Rubio has accumulated more than 1,100 hours as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, including 600 hours of combat and imminent danger time. He was serving as a surgeon for the 3rd Battalion of the Army’s 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colorado, before coming to NASA.

* Jessica Watkins hails from Lafayette, Colo. She graduated from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, with a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences, then went on to earn a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Watkins has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Calif., and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborated on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

CSA’s astronaut candidates are:
* Joshua Kutryk, a Royal Canadian Air Force lieutenant colonel, is from Beauvallon, Alberta. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, as well as master’s degrees in space studies, flight test engineering, and defense studies. Prior to joining CSA, Kutryk worked as an experimental test pilot and a fighter pilot in Cold Lake, Alberta, where he led the unit responsible for the operational flight-testing of fighter aircraft in Canada.

* Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons hails from Calgary, Alberta. She holds an honors bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University in Montreal and a doctorate in engineering from the University of Cambridge. While at McGill, she conducted research on flame propagation in microgravity, in collaboration with CSA and the National Research Council Flight Research Laboratory. Prior to joining CSA, Sidey-Gibbons worked as an assistant professor in combustion in the Department of Engineering at Cambridge.

All astronaut candidates have completed training in spacewalking, robotics, International Space Station systems, T-38 jet proficiency and Russian language. At the ceremony, each candidate will receive an astronaut pin, marking their graduation from basic training and their eligibility to be selected to fly in space.

As astronauts, they’ll help develop spacecraft, support the teams currently in space and ultimately join the ranks of only about 500 people who have had the honor of going into space. NASA continues its work aboard the space station, which, in November 2020, will celebrate 20 consecutive years of human occupation. The agency also is on the verge of launching astronauts from American soil aboard American commercial spacecraft and preparing to send humans to the Moon as part of the Artemis program.

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