NASA has announced that it is seeking applications for future astronauts for the first time since 2015, the agency said.
The call for more astronauts comes at a time when the agency is preparing to send the first woman and next man to the Moon with the Artemis program.
NASA expects to select final astronaut candidates in mid-2021 to begin training as the next class of Artemis Generation astronauts. When the agency last sought astronaut candidates, a record-breaking 18,300 people applied. After more than two years of intensive training, 11 new astronauts selected from that pool graduated earlier this year.
Since the 1960s, NASA has selected 350 people to train as astronaut candidates for its increasingly challenging missions to explore space. With 48 astronauts in the active astronaut corps, more will be needed to serve as crew aboard spacecraft bound for multiple destinations and propel exploration forward as part of Artemis missions and beyond.
After completing training, the new astronauts could launch on American rockets and spacecraft, developed for NASA´s Commercial Crew Program, to live and work aboard the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth. There they will take part in experiments that benefit life at home and prepare us for the Moon and Mars.
They also may launch on NASA´s new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, docking at the Gateway in lunar orbit before taking a new human landing system to the Moon´s surface. After returning humans to the Moon in 2024, NASA plans to send astronauts to the lunar surface once per year on expeditions and establish sustainable lunar exploration by 2028.