Many kids dream of venturing into space to search for new planets or to conduct cutting-edge research on the International Space Station (ISS). In August 2017, twelve eager men and women came one step closer to realizing their lifelong ambition when they reported to the Johnston Space Center in Houston to begin two years of grueling training. If they succeed, they will be NASA’s biggest graduating class of astronauts since 2000.
The seven men and five women were selected from a record 18,300 applications received by the space agency, since it announced it was seeking more astronauts in December 2015. To be considered for the position, candidates had to have a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering or a mathematics-related field. They were also required to be in good health and between 5’2 and 6’3 tall. Also essential were superior “leadership, teamwork, and communications skills.” According to NASA, the twelve trainees, selected after two rounds of interviews — one lasting three days and the second, an entire week — are a diverse group with various careers and backgrounds.