NASA receives near record number of astronaut applications

Despite the end of the shuttle program, interest in space exploration continues to grow.
Written by Sarah Korones, Contributor

The end of NASA’s Space Shuttle program last July hasn’t slowed the dreams of many aspiring astronauts.

After calling for a new class of astronauts in November, the agency received over 6,300 applications from those eager to be space-bound. The number doubles the usual turnout and makes 2012 the most competitive year since 1978, reports MSNBC.

Although those handling NASA’s admissions will be sifting through paperwork for quite some time, administrators are pleased to see that interest in the program is still abundant.

“To me, this demonstrates the fact that the public remains genuinely interested in continuing the exploration of space,” said Duane Ross, manager of the Astronaut Selection Office, in a press release.

So what will the newest class of astronauts do without the famed Space Shuttle program? The agency hopes to put the contenders to work aboard the International Space Station and will also use their help in building the Orion spacecraft. And with increasing emphasis on privatizing the industry, this class might be the first to maneuver commercial rockets.

The competition to embark on any of these missions will be fierce. Of the thousands who applied, only nine to fifteen hopefuls will eventually be offered employment at NASA.

NASA flooded with astronaut applications [MSNBC]

Image: p_a_h/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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