NASA's astronauts are American heroes and proxies for our hopes and dreams. The best part of each new astronaut class is that we get an entirely fresh crop of people we can live vicariously through, and this year is no exception. Today, NASA announced its 22nd space squad. Although over 18,000 applied, the space agency decided that just 12 had the right stuff.
The dozen, disturbingly talented astronaut candidates will train at NASA's Johnson Space Center for two years. It's possible that this crew will fly beyond Low Earth Orbit, maybe even to Mars.
"It's an exciting time to be here at NASA," NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot told the crowd gathered at the agency's Johnson Space Center today. "One of these folks behind us could be the one that takes that next iconic leap and says the words similar to what Neil Armstrong said when he stepped on the Moon."
The 12-member crew is comprised of five women and seven men, all between the ages of 28 and 42. According to collectSPACE, the team is made up of six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a SpaceX engineer and a NASA research pilot.
Here are the 12 golden-retriever-human-beings NASA has ranked above all of us:
The 29-year-old Washington native is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, where she studied systems engineering. She also holds a Master's degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge. Not too shabby.
Cardman is a 29-year-old biologist. She obtained her bachelors and masters degrees at UNC Chapel Hill. Her expertise is in "microorganisms in subsurface environments," according to NASA.
"I would be so stoked to do some gene sequencing on the ISS!" Cardman said in a Reddit AMA today.
Chari, 39, is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, class of 1999. The Iowa native has a Master's degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT and graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School. He also has a ton of medals.
Dominick, 35, hails from Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He served as a lieutenant commander in the US Navy and earned his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the University of San Diego.
Hines, 42, was a research pilot at NASA's Johnson Space Center. According to NASA, he graduated from the US Air Force Test Pilot School with a master's in flight test engineering.
The 31-year-old private pilot was most recently an associate professor in aeronautics and astronautics at MIT.
The 33-year-old Los Angeles native earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of San Diego and his doctorate of medicine from Harvard Medical School. He is a former member of the US Navy.
Kulin, 33, hails from Alaska. He was a launch chief engineer at SpaceX, and apparently a huge fan of Kerbal Space Program, according to a Reddit AMA.
Moghbeli, 33, was a major in the US Marine Corps. She holds a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering with information technology from MIT.
The 34-year-old Houston, Texas native was a Research Engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. She's also a certified EMT and wilderness first responder.
"We will be trained in spacewalking skills, robotics, ISS systems, flight training, and Russian language over the next two years," O'Hara said in a Reddit AMA. "After that we will enter the pool of astronauts waiting for flight assignments, and support the office in a variety of ways. We'll continue training throughout our careers though, so we won't spend too much time staying still!"
Rubio, 41, is a graduate of the US Military Academy. According to NASA, he holds a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
At 28, Watkins is the youngest member of the crew. The Colorado native earned her Bachelor's degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, and a Doctorate in Geology from UCLA, according to NASA.
Ad astra, class of 2017! We look forward to watching you live our best lives.