An article on space.com caught my eye today. It's all about how the 2009 astronaut class will be the first group in 30 years with no prospect of flying on the Shuttle or any other US spacecraft in the near future.
As interesting and concerning as the so-called "space gap" is, I'd like to draw your attention to the section towards the end of the article titled "Brushing up on Russian." This includes some tidbits of information from Duane Ross that give us a glimpse into the current astronaut selection process status:
- There were 3564 applicants total (up from 3535 quoted previously).
- There will be 10-12 people chosen (down from the 15-20 quoted previously).
- The final group of astronaut candidates will be announced at the end of May
end of April(not early May as has been reported previously).
- The two-years of astronaut candidate training will include 54 weeks of training on Russian Soyuz systems and with the Russian language. Usually that time is spent on learning Shuttle systems.
- There will be a greater emphasis on geology and geophysics than in the past (good for me).
- The makeup of astronauts will continue to be about 1/3 pilots and 2/3 scientists and engineers, although the pilots have little hope of piloting spacecraft "anytime soon."
Second Chance to Seven Round 1 Interviewees
The chatter on the AsHos board this week is that NASA called in seven additional people from the first interview pool to interview in the second pool. Recall that there were 110 people in the first interview group, and this was reduced to 40 people who were asked back for a second interview. Apparently, enough of those 40 people were disqualified (for medical reasons?) that NASA decided to dip into its reserve of first interviewees and invite 7 more people back for a second chance. Sian Proctor was one of those lucky and deserving people who will interview at NASA the week of April 19. You can read all about it on her blog.
Update April 11: Note that adding these additional people to the final interview pool will delay NASA's final announcement of the selections until the end of May.
The Right Stuff Revisited
Readers might want to surf on over to collectSPACE to read a really interesting post sharing an interview with Scott Carpenter and Duane Ross discussing the "right stuff" of the first astronauts compared to contemporary ones. Here's a blurb about it:
Fifty years ago Thursday, NASA announced its first seven astronauts. Almost immediately, the group rocketed into history as heroes, two years before any of them would leave the ground for space. A half-century later, the space agency is again recruiting "astronaut volunteers", now for its 20th class of candidates. As original astronaut Scott Carpenter shared and NASA's Duane Ross confirmed for collectSPACE, the group may not have 'the right stuff', nor may they need it.
Party for Space
In other news, this week is the annual Yuri's Night celebration in which space-themed parties are held all over the world to commemorate humanity’s achievements in space. This year there are 190 parties in 43 countries on 6 continents. Wow!
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