By NATALIA HAWK
You probably don’t give a shit about astronauts. And to be honest – I can’t really blame you.
You’re probably too busy with your everyday life to worry about NASA and things like missions to Mars and what the International Space Station is planning.
Because when you have three children/uni assignments/work deadlines/sick parents/a grumpy partner to contend with, outer space understandably might take a backburner on the list of Things To Care About.
But you need to care about astronauts.
More specifically – you need to care about what NASA just did, because it’s pretty amazing.
You see, last month, NASA announced their 2013 astronaut candidate class. This class is made up of eight people who will join the 49 NASA astronauts that already exist and are working on rather impressive things like missions to asteroids and planets.
Four of those people are women.
Their names are Christina Hammock, Nicole Mann, Anne McClain and Jessica Meir.
NASA didn’t select these women because they had some kind of gender quota to fill. They simply did it because they were the best people for the job. And out of all astronaut candidate classes, that’s the highest percentage of women ever selected in a NASA group.
That might not sound so significant until you consider that…
1) 534 people have travelled to space so far – and only 57 of them have been women.
2) These four women won out over 6300 other applicants. 6300.
And the application process was intense, as you might expect it to be. Just looking at the NASA website, ONE aspect of their training program requires that you be able to swim 3 lengths of a 25m pool in a flight suit and tennis shoes. And that isn’t even taking into account the other mental/physical requirements.
But let’s forget about all that for a second. Let’s look at the achievements of the four women.
Christina has engineering and physics degrees and a masters in electrical engineering, and has spent winters in places such as Antarctica doing research.
Nicole has a mechanical engineering degree and is a qualified pilot in the US Marine Corps, as well as a brilliant soccer player.
Anne is a pilot/command intelligence officer/rugby player/scuba diver that also has degrees in public health and international studies.
Jessica has degrees in biology, space studies and marine biology, is a pilot/scuba diver/ice diver, and is an assistant professor at Harvard medical school
These four women have nine degrees between them. Three are qualified pilots. Two are qualified scuba divers. Christina and Anne are among the youngest candidates ever selected for the program.