Today, NASA will reveal its newest astronauts by formally introducing the 2017 astronaut class, and you can watch it happen live. The event, which will be streamed online via NASA’s live streaming portal, will begin at around 2 PM EDT, and will feature a number of speakers, including Vice President Mike Pence and NASA officials.
Growing up, plenty of kids want to become astronauts when they grow up, but only a very, very tiny fraction even get the chance to try out for the job. This newest round of candidates was the largest it’s ever been, with over 18,000 applications rolling in. That’s the highest number of would-be space travelers ever to apply, and absolutely demolishes the previous record, set in 1978, when roughly 8,000 individuals applied. The official requirements are US citizenship, a bachelor’s degree from a science, technology, engineering or math institution, and a minimum of 1,000 hours piloting jet aircraft.
Today’s announcement will be the first time since 2013 that a new astronaut class began their NASA training. At that time, the new members were chosen from a pool of just fewer than 6,400 applicants, so the competition is obviously a bit more fierce this time around.
The new astronauts will still have to complete additional training before they’re ready to actually take their first extraterrestrial voyage. They’ll practice working on spacecraft simulations, honing their spacewalking chops, and building bonds with their team members who they will need to rely on heavily during missions. Once they’re ready to take the leap, they’ll be eligible to make trips to the International Space Station and other journeys, including potential deep space exploration missions.