Half Of NASA’s Latest Astronaut Class Is Female: Will Spokane Woman Travel To Mars?

By Laura Frazier The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

Members of NASA's latest class of astronauts, made up of four men and four women, could be among those ultimately selected to travel to Mars.

One of those astronauts is Anne McClain, raised in Spokane, Washington.

NASA selected eight candidates from a pool of more than 6,000 applicants in 2013. The class finished up two years of intensive training last summer. In fifteen years or longer, the astronauts could be among the first humans to touch down on Mars as part of NASA's mission to explore the Red Planet.

The four women from the 2013 cadre-- McClain, Jessica Meir, Christina Hammock Koch and Nicole Aunapu Mann-- spoke with Glamour for a story published last month. The magazine reported that it's the first time women have made up half of NASA's class.

McClain, a graduate of Gonzaga Preparatory School, told Glamour she'd always wanted to be an astronaut. McClain graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the Army. She flew helicopters in Iraq and holds two master's degrees.

"I joined the Army out of a deep sense of duty, but wanting to be an astronaut feels more like my destiny," McClain told Glamour. "With so much conflict in the world, space exploration can be a beacon of hope. No one cares about race or religion or nationality in space travel. We're all just part of Team Human."

McClain travelled back to Spokane this fall and spoke with students about her career path.

She described hearing that she'd been selected to become an astronaut as "absolutely overwhelming," according to The Spokesman Review.

The four men of NASA's class of 2013 are Tyler "Nick" Hague, Victor Glover, Josh Cassada and Andrew Morgan.

NASA's goal is to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and then to Mars in the 2030s. Four crew members will be selected for the journey, potentially chosen from the class of 2013 and others, according to Glamour, and the round trip journey could take two to three years.

NASA is currently accepting applications for it's next class of astronauts.

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