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Who Wants to Go to Space?

Ed White Space Walk
(Image: NASA)

Once you’ve bought everything you ever wanted from IKEA and watched everything on Netflix, what else is there possibly left to do? Well, you could go to space. NASA just put out a call for astronauts and were blown away by the results. Let’s tackle this news story with today’s big question: Who wants to go to space? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.

Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, and Deke Slayton were the first American astronauts. At the time NASA and the United States were involved in the space race against the Soviets. A lot has changed since then, but these seven individuals began a legacy that is still carried on today, American space exploration! Recently, NASA put out a call for the next generation of astronauts and were blown away by the response they got.

A record number of people applied to be astronauts this year. 18,300 individuals chimed in requesting the chance to be a potential space walker. This is about 1,000 more applications than NASA has ever received. Now the real work begins. After reviewing the 18,300 applications, NASA will narrow it down to just 8 - 14 people. These individuals will then have to begin space tests. Simulations, space walking skills, space craft systems training, learning Russian, and many other aspects of missions will be explored with the 2017 class of astronauts.

Once they successfully finish the training they will be heading up into space on the International Space Station, the Orion spacecraft, or one of two commercial space crafts that are currently under development. Regardless, NASA is floored by the interest that the space program has been picking up in the past several years.

This comes as no big surprise really. The global efforts for space exploration have been making some incredible news in the past few years with mind blowing programs like New Horizons, the Curiosity rover, plans for lunar exploration, landing on a comet, space tourism, and so on. In addition to all this, movies like Gravity, Interstellar, and The Martian are doing nothing but helping fuel the fire for space adventures. Furthermore shows like The Big Bang Theory and Cosmos also help support the general interest in science and big intellectual pursuits. 18,300 men and women made it clear that if there’s an opportunity to be exploring space, there are many candidates to consider here.

So, either things are getting really bad here or we’re seeing a huge surge in excitement about space exploration. Either way interest in our space program is really taking off.