Only a select lucky few of the 6,300 will make it, but first, NASA needs a new ride. Even though NASA doesn’t have any ships to send riders out of orbit, that hasn’t slowed down the applicants from lining up for the chance to join NASA’s famous team of astronauts during the latest hiring campaign.
The U.S. space agency received more than 6,300 applications during the search for new astronauts making it the second-highest turnout ever and double the normal response, NASA officials said. The all-time record for most astronaut applications was set in 1978, when more than 8,000 people sent in submissions.
Only a handful of the new astronaut hopefuls will actually make it through NASA’s rigorous selection process. The space agency plans to choose nine to fifteen candidates for its 21st astronaut class in the spring of 2013. Training will then begin August 2013.
“We will be looking for people who really stand out,” said Peggy Whitson, NASA’s chief astronaut at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, in a statement. “Our team not only will be looking at their academic background and professional accomplishments, but also at other elements of their personality and character traits — what types of hobbies they have or unique life experiences. We want and need a mix of individuals and skills for this next phase of human exploration.”