Thursday, July 2, 2009

NASA Selects New Astronauts for Future Space Exploration

Thursday, July 2, 2009
2009 Astronaut Candidate Class

After reviewing more than 3500 applications, NASA has selected nine men and women for the 2009 astronaut candidate class. They will begin training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, in August.

“This is a very talented and diverse group we've selected,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations. “They will join our current astronauts and play very important roles for NASA in the future. In addition to flying in space, astronauts participate in every aspect of human spaceflight, sharing their expertise with engineers and managers across the country. We look forward to working with them as we transcend from the shuttle to our future exploration of space, and continue the important engineering and scientific discoveries aboard the International Space Station."

The new astronaut candidates:

Serena M. Aunon, 33, of League City, Texas; University of Texas Medical Branch-Wyle flight surgeon for NASA’s Space Shuttle, International Space Station and Constellation Programs; born in Indianapolis, Ind. Aunon holds degrees from The George Washington University, University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, and UTMB.

Jeanette J. Epps, 38, of Fairfax, Va.; technical intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency; born in Syracuse, N.Y. Epps holds degrees from LeMoyne College and the University of Maryland.

Jack D. Fischer, Major U.S. Air Force, 35, of Reston, Va.; test pilot; U.S. Air Force Strategic Policy intern (Joint Chiefs of Staff) at the Pentagon; born in Boulder, Colo. Fischer is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Michael S. Hopkins, Lt. Colonel U.S. Air Force, 40, of Alexandria, Va.; special assistant to the Vice Chairman (Joint Chiefs of Staff) at the Pentagon; born in Lebanon, Mo. Hopkins holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Stanford University.

Kjell N. Lindgren, 36, of League City, Texas; University of Texas Medical Branch-Wyle flight surgeon for NASA’s Space Shuttle, International Space Station and Constellation Programs; born in Taipei, Taiwan. Lindgren has degrees from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado State University, University of Colorado, the University of Minnesota, and UTMB.

Kathleen (Kate) Rubins, 30, of Cambridge, Mass.; born in Farmington, Conn.; principal investigator and fellow, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT and conducts research trips to the Congo. Rubins has degrees from the University of California-San Diego and Stanford University.

Scott D. Tingle, Commander U.S. Navy, 43, of Hollywood, Md.; born in Attleboro, Mass.; test pilot and Assistant Program Manager-Systems Engineering at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Tingle holds degrees from Southeastern Massachusetts University (now University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) and Purdue University.

Mark T. Vande Hei, Lt. Colonel U.S. Army, 42, of El Lago, Texas; born in Falls Church, Va.; flight controller for the International Space Station at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, as part of U.S. Army NASA Detachment. Vande Hei is a graduate of Saint John’s University and Stanford University.

Gregory R. (Reid) Wiseman, Lt. Commander U.S. Navy, 33, of Virginia Beach, Va.; born in Baltimore; test pilot; Department Head, Strike Fighter Squadron 103, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, based out of Oceana Virginia. Wiseman is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Johns Hopkins University.

"Most important is that the decisions I made in my professional career were not toward a specific goal but because I loved what I was doing at the time."

"The NASA mission has always inspired me because I have a great desire to help further our understanding of the world we live in and the universe."

"I've done my best along the way to always take advantage of the opportunities I was given, to put the team first, and to do my absolute best at whatever my job was... ."

"This was the moment that I had been working toward since high school and it was hard to believe it had arrived."

"It was an honor just to be considered -- to get to participate in the selection process with amazing people from all over the country."

"I think this is a thrilling time to be part of the space program, and I feel very fortunate to be starting as an Astronaut Candidate at this particular time."

"I planned an education and training path focused on my interests, which included science, engineering, and flying… and then stuck to it."

"I suppose I've been successful by looking for opportunities to do things I enjoy, yet being mature enough to appreciate how fortunate I am, even when in a miserable situation."

"When I saw my first space shuttle launch from the side of a road in Cocoa Beach in 2001, my ambition was sealed."

NASA Television’s Video File will include b-roll of astronaut training. For NASA TV streaming video, schedules and downlink information, visit:

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:

For more information about astronaut selection and training, visit:


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