IN SPACE - SEPTEMBER 5: In this handout from NASA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide, Expedition 32 flight engineer, participates in the mission?s third session of extravehicular activity (EVA outside the International Space Station September 5, 2012 in Space. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)
Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

Record number of Americans apply to be astronauts

More than 18,000 people applied to be an astronaut during the last two months. 

That's nearly three times the number of applications received in 2012 for the most recent astronaut class and more than two times the amount received in 1978 -- which previously held the record amount of applicants when 8,000 people applied for the position.

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“It’s not at all surprising to me that so many Americans from diverse backgrounds want to personally contribute to blazing the trail on our journey to Mars,” said former astronaut and current NASA administrator Charlie Bolden. “A few exceptionally talented men and women will become the astronauts chosen in this group who will once again launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft.”

NASA's Astronaut Selection Board will select and announce eight to 14 individuals in mid-2017. The new astronauts will train at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where they'll complete about two years of initial training on spacecraft systems, spacewalking skills and teamwork, Russian language and other skills.

Applications for the 2017 astronaut class opened Dec. 14, and closed Thursday.

“We have our work cut out for us with this many applications,” said Brian Kelly, director of flight operations at Johnson Space Center. “But it’s heartening to know so many people recognize what a great opportunity this is to be part of NASA’s exciting mission. I look forward to meeting the men and women talented enough to rise to the top of what is always a pool of incredible applicants.”

Read more here.

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