Latest NASA graduates could soon be heading to ISS, Mars

Video: Latest NASA graduates could soon be heading to ISS, Mars

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — About a dozen new astronauts took one giant leap in their careers Friday.

Eleven graduates, plus two others astronauts from the Canadian Space Agency who trained alongside them for more than two years, made up NASA’s newest class of astronauts. The graduation ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center marked the first group of astronauts to graduate under the Artemis Program, NASA’s new lunar exploration initiative.

The graduates were chosen among 18,000 applicants.

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NASA officials said it may not be long before the newbies land their first mission, and they could be the next man or first woman to land on the moon, or even go to Mars.

NASA has plans to launch U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil as part of its Commercial Crew Program. It’ll be the first time that will happen since the retirement of the shuttle program nearly a decade ago.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that’s a top priority.

“They’re going to launch on our brand-new rockets under commercial crew,” he said. “We have Boeing and SpaceX building capability to get us to the ISS.”

However, NASA has not lost sight of a 2024 moon landing.

“We have the Orion crew capsule, which is going to take astronauts to the gateway,” Bridenstine said. "We have, under development right now, the gateway, which is the space station around the moon.

A human landing system is also in development.

NASA will again be accepting applications for new astronauts this spring.