6,100 hundred people applied to become astronauts - with its rather fuzzy, non-specific meaning compared to when I was a kid - for the candidate class of 2013. 8 have been chosen.

"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," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. 

Well, not really, 'exploring' hasn't been done in 40 years. Sorry, the Space Shuttle was an expensive UPS Truck. Bolden cites landing on an asteroid - that idea President Obama had to justify canceling the Constellation Program because it had the Bush name on it - but that's not exciting - a cute robot on Mars accomplished far more than putting a person on an asteroid will. Mars will be exciting if it happens but, if Obama's precedent sticks, the next president will just cancel the program because it has the Obama name on it and reboot a new one with his/her own. When Nixon is more politically ethical than modern presidents, you know you are in trouble.

But it's still a terrific achievement to be a candidate. Of the 6,100 who applied, 1,000 of them were probably really well-qualified. The top 8 from that bunch is saying something. Unsurprisingly, 6 of the 8 are in the military and all are in their mid-30s. The new astronaut candidates will begin training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in August.


2013 astronaut candidate class. Credit and link: NASA