JOHNSON SPACE CENTER — A class of four women and four men were announced Monday as the next generation of space explorers for NASA. The candidates look to be the first astronauts to launch from the U.S. since the space shuttle program was retired last year.

More than 6,000 people applied to join the astronaut corps. The new class will train for missions to the International Space Station and planned missions to a lassoed asteroid and possibly even the initial trips to Mars.

“They have diverse backgrounds and skill sets that will contribute greatly to the existing astronaut corps,” Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at Johnson Space Center, said. “Based on their incredible experiences to date, I have every confidence that they will apply their combined expertise and talents to achieve great things for NASA and this country in the pursuit of human exploration.”

Of the eight, one is a Texan.

U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Victor Glover is an F-18 pilot who grew up in the North Texas town of Prosper. The California Poly Tech graduate also calls Pomona, Calif., home.

The U.S. military is well-represented in the new astronaut class.

Glover is the only member of the Navy in the class. There are two from the U.S. Army — Maj. Anne McClain and Maj. Andrew Morgan. Maj. Nicole Aunapu Mann is a Marine, and from the U.S. Air Force is Lt. Colonel Tyler “Nick” Hague.

John Cassada, a White Bear Lake, Minn., native is a former naval aviator and a trained physicist who is the co-founder and the chief technology officer for the photon research firm Quantum Opus.

There are two doctors in the class.

Jessica Meir, who hails from Caribou, Maine, is an assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School and works at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  Morgan is a West Point graduate who has worked as an emergency room physician, flight surgeon and is working on a sports medicine fellowship.

The new class includes a climatologist.

Christina Hammock of Jacksonville, N.C., is the station chief for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in American Samoa.

“These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we’re doing big, bold things here -- developing missions to go farther into space than ever before,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “They’re excited about the science we’re doing on the International Space Station and our plan to launch from U.S. soil to there on spacecraft built by American companies. And they’re ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars.”

The candidates hope to join the roster of 50 active NASA astronauts. NASA also had 35 management astronauts who help direct or run specific programs for the space agency.

Since the selection of the Mercury 7 in 1959 there have been 330 NASA astronauts. The 2013 class if the first at NASA since nine candidates were selected in 2009.

The new astronaut class reports to Johnson Space Center in August.

Astronaut Class of 2013 bios

Josh A. Cassada, Ph.D., 39, is originally from White Bear Lake, Minn. Cassada is a former naval aviator who holds an undergraduate degree from Albion College, and advanced degrees from the University of Rochester, N.Y. Cassada is a physicist by training and currently is serving as co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for Quantum Opus.

Victor J. Glover, 37, Lt. Commander, U.S. Navy, hails from Pomona, Calif., and Prosper, Texas. He is an F/A-18 pilot and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards, Calif. Glover holds degrees from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Air University and the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif. He currently is serving as a Navy Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Congress.

 Tyler N. (Nick) Hague, 37, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Air Force, calls Hoxie, Kan., home. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., and the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards, Calif. Hague currently is supporting the Department of Defense as Deputy Chief of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. 

Christina M. Hammock, 34, calls Jacksonville, N.C., home. Hammock holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. She currently is serving as National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Station Chief in American Samoa.

Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35, Major, U.S. Marine Corps, originally is from Penngrove, Calif. She is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Stanford University and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Md. Mann is an F/A 18 pilot, currently serving as an Integrated Product Team Lead at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River.

Anne C. McClain, 34, Major, U.S. Army, lists her hometown as Spokane, Wash. She is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Va.; the University of Bath and the University of Bristol, both in the United Kingdom. McClain is an OH-58 helicopter pilot, and a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River.

Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D., 35, is from Caribou, Maine. She is a graduate of Brown University, has an advanced degree from the International Space University, and earned her doctorate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Meir currently is an Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Andrew R. Morgan, M.D., 37, Major, U.S. Army, considers New Castle, Pa., home. Morgan is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and earned a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md. He has experience as an emergency physician and flight surgeon for the Army special operations community, and currently is completing a sports medicine fellowship.

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or

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