Number of the Day

50%: The percentage of female astronauts in NASA's new class, "the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected by NASA."
Monday's announcement came on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the launch of the first American woman in space, Sally Ride. She died last summer.

The eight — all in their 30s — were chosen from more than 6,000 applications received early last year, the second largest number ever received. They will report for duty in August at Johnson Space Center in Houston and join 49 astronauts currently at NASA.

...NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said these new candidates will help lead the first human mission to an asteroid in the 2020s, and then Mars, sometime in the following decade. They also may be among the first to fly to the space station aboard commercial spacecraft launched from the U.S., he noted. Russia ferries the astronauts now.

"These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we're doing big, bold things here — developing missions to go farther into space than ever before," Bolden said in a statement.
Among the men joining NOAA Station Chief Christina M. Hammock, Marine Corps Major Nicole Aunapu Mann, Army Major Anne C. McClain, and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D., is Navy Commander Victor J. Glover, who is African American. Given how long the iconic image of a US astronaut was/has been white and male, diversity in the program is so important. And exciting!

You can read the bios of all eight of the 2013 Astronaut Candidate Class here.

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