Written by Matthew Solari
The dream of becoming an astronaut is not only still alive; it’s more robust than ever. In response to an open call for applicants to the next astronaut class, NASA recently announced that more than 18,300 hopeful explorers submitted their résumés. That’s almost three times the number who applied to the last open call in 2011. After months of winnowing down the applicant pool and conducting extensive tests and interviews of the finalists, NASA plans to announce 8 to 14 new astronauts in 2017.
Where are all these would-be astronauts hoping to travel? In late 2014, NASA electrified the public imagination when the agency announced they are putting all their efforts to landing a manned mission on Mars in the 2030s. With this exciting new focus, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) directed BRC to update and redirect the “Exploration Space” recruitment center to focus on Mars!
The new recruitment center – “Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted” – inspires people – especially young people – who visit from all around the world. Some guests come back over and over again to be a part of the experience and to ask questions. These visitors are definitely responding to NASA’s invitation to join this mission in whatever way inspires them – whether through studying science or engineering, joining NASA administration or supporting the space program, or even becoming one of the very select, heroic explorers who will first set foot on Mars.
I was proud to be a part of the original team who created the original “Exploration Space” and I’m even more proud to have been a part of the new “Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted” center that is now inspiring young aspiring astronauts to fulfill their dream of launching into space and exploring the unknown.