Cape Canaveral, Fla. — NASA chose 12 new astronauts Wednesday from its biggest pool of applicants ever, hand-picking seven men and five women who could one day fly aboard the nation’s next generation of spacecraft.
The astronaut class of 2017 includes doctors, scientists, engineers, pilots and military officers from Anchorage to Miami and points in between. They’ve worked in submarines, emergency rooms, university lecture halls, jet cockpits and battleships. They range in age from 29 to 42, and they typically have led the pack.
“It makes me personally feel very inadequate when you read what these folks have done,” said NASA’s acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot.
The 12 selected Wednesday will join 44 astronauts already in the NASA corps. U.S. astronauts have not launched from home soil since 2011, when the space shuttles were retired, thus the low head count. Americans have been hitching rides aboard Russian spacecraft in the meantime, but that could change next year.
A brief look at the elite 12:
■Navy Lt. Kayla Barron of Richland, Washington, a submarine-warfare officer and nuclear engineer who was among the first class of women commissioned into the submarine service and now works at the U.S. Naval Academy.
■ Zena Cardman of Williamsburg, Virginia, a graduate research fellow at the National Science Foundation with a specialty in microorganisms in subsurface environments such as caves.
■Air Force Lt. Col. Raja Chari of Cedar Falls, Iowa, director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
■ Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115.
■Bob Hines of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a NASA research pilot at Johnson Space Center.
■Warren “Woody” Hoburg of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
■Dr. Jonny Kim of Los Angeles, a Navy lieutenant who trained as a SEAL and is completing his residency in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
■Robb Kulin of Anchorage, Alaska, who leads the launch chief engineering group for SpaceX at Hawthorne, California.
■Marine Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli of Baldwin, New York, who tests H-1 helicopters and serves as a quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test Evaluation Squadron 1 in Yuma, Arizona.
■ Loral O’Hara of Sugar Land, Texas, a research engineer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
■Dr. Francisco “Frank” Rubio of Miami, an Army major who is serving as a surgeon in Fort Carson, Colorado.
■ Jessica Watkins of Lafayette, Colorado, a postdoctoral fellow at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.
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