Women make up 50 percent of NASA’s incoming team of astronauts
Four of the eight astronauts set to join NASA in 2013 are women, the highest percentage of female candidates ever selected by the space program.
News of the major first was announced on Monday, the eve of the 30th anniversary of Sally Ride's glass atmosphere shattering space mission.
Nicole Aunapu Mann is a fighter pilot, Anne McClain is a helicopter pilot and the two other women, Christina Hammock and Jessica Meir, are scientists.
"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 in a statement. "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 team of eight will be joining 49 active duty NASA astronauts at the agency's astronaut corps at the Johnson Space Center in Texas, and may be among the first to lead a mission to an asteroid and Mars after 2020, according to Bolden.