Roy Gilbert

Johnson Space Center training astronauts for missions to moon, Mars

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Some of the country’s most dedicated, intelligent and motivated people live, work and recreate in the Bay Area.

They are astronauts, and they spend their days at the Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake furthering NASA’s mission to explore space and eventually reach Mars.

But before astronauts ever strap into a rocket and blast off to the International Space Station, they must first spend two years in basic training as astronaut candidates followed by years of mission-specific training. Before that, they must be among the talented few NASA selects from a pool of thousands of wannabe space explorers.

In January, the latest group of astronaut candidates graduated and were officially added to the Astronaut Corps. This class of 11 was the first to graduate from training under the Artemis program, which is NASA’s designation for the manned spaceflight program that will land crews on the moon and Mars.

These unique individuals will spend years helping other astronauts with their missions before eventually being selected for missions of their own, after which they will spend years preparing, said John Charles, a Clear Lake resident and NASA scientist who retired in 2018.

“It’s glamorous, heroic, historic, and it’s also exceedingly dangerous to be an astronaut,” he said. “I cannot imagine a more exciting, challenging, rewarding and daunting career to have.” ‘SPECIAL, DIFFERENT PEOPLE’

The open secret at Johnson Space Center is every NASA employee wants to be an astronaut. The reality, Charles said, is very few have what it takes to actually become one, and that […]

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