The Flies Have Landed: NASA Welcomes New Astronaut Class!

nasa files astronauts
NASA's newest astronauts take to the stage during their graduation ceremony at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. L to R: Nora Al Matrooshi (UAE), Chris Birch, Christopher Williams, Andre Douglas, Deniz Burnham, Nichole Ayers, Jack Hathaway, Luke Delaney, Jessica Wittner, Anil Menon, Mohammad Al Mulla (UAE) and Marcos Berríos. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Houston, Texas – Brace yourselves, space enthusiasts, because “The Flies” have officially landed… on the hallowed grounds of the astronaut corps, that is! On a momentous Tuesday, March 5th, 2024, NASA proudly welcomed its 23rd astronaut class, a diverse and talented group who have successfully completed two years of rigorous training.

This graduation ceremony wasn’t just about celebrating these ten individuals – it also marked the exciting return of the astronaut application process! It seems “The Flies” aren’t the only ones buzzing with anticipation for future space adventures.

Soaring High with “The Flies”

The graduating class, affectionately nicknamed “The Flies” by their predecessors, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. From seasoned pilots and engineers to brilliant scientists and medical professionals, these ten individuals represent the very best of what humanity has to offer.

Their journey wasn’t easy. For two years, they’ve pushed their physical and mental limits, enduring grueling physical conditioning, mastering complex scientific and technical knowledge, and undergoing intense psychological evaluations. But today, they stand tall, each receiving their silver NASA astronaut pin – a symbol of their hard work, dedication, and a ticket to potentially suiting up for future missions.

A Legacy of Exploration Continues

As the graduates soaked in the well-deserved applause, a video message from Expedition 70 astronaut Loral O’Hara beamed in from the International Space Station (ISS). Her words resonated, reminding them of the incredible journey ahead: “The International Space Station is well worth the wait,” she said, offering a glimpse into the extraordinary experiences that await them.

Since 1959, NASA has carefully selected a total of 360 individuals for the astronaut corps, with all but a handful achieving the ultimate dream of blasting off into space. This rich history serves as a constant reminder of the unwavering human spirit and our collective desire to explore the vast unknown.

Meet the Newest Astronauts!

While information about the graduating class is still being released, we’re excited to acknowledge these ten individuals who have successfully completed their training and are now officially NASA astronauts!

Two candidate astronauts from the United Arab Emirates are training as part of the group 23:

A Celebration of Diversity and Collaboration

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NASA’s 23rd class of astronauts: Left to right: Nora Al Matrooshi (UAE), Andre Douglas, Christopher Williams, Nichole Ayers, Deniz Burnham, Luke Delaney, Marcos Berríos, Jack Hathaway, Anil Menon, Jessica Wittner and Mohammad Al Mulla (UAE). Chris Birch is out of frame. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Vanessa Wyche, Director of the Johnson Space Center, spoke with pride about the graduating class, aptly stating, “Our astronaut corps puts the ‘human’ in human spaceflight.” “The Flies,” as she affectionately referred to them, are now officially eligible for missions to the ISS, the Moon under the Artemis program, and even the distant frontier of Mars.

Adding to the international flavor of the ceremony were Nora Al Matrooshi and Mohammad Al Mulla, the second class of astronauts from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Having trained alongside “The Flies” through a collaborative agreement between NASA and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center, they too received their silver pins, marking a significant milestone in the UAE’s spacefaring journey.

Looking Forward: New Horizons Beckon

While “The Flies” may not be the first in line for the prestigious honor of walking on the Moon during the Artemis missions, their expertise will be instrumental in supporting these historic endeavors. From serving as capsule communicators (capcoms) in Mission Control to overseeing the meticulous preparation of rockets and spacecraft, their contributions will be vital to the success of these ambitious missions.

The good news for aspiring space explorers? They won’t have to wait long to join the ranks. As of April 2nd, applications are officially open for the highly anticipated 24th astronaut class!

Ready to Take Flight?

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Artemis 2 commander Reid Wiseman (at right) addresses NASA’s 23rd astronaut group, “The Flies,” at their graduation. (Image credit: NASA TV)

So, do you have what it takes to join the elite company of NASA astronauts? If you’re a US citizen with a passion for science, exploration, and pushing the boundaries of human potential, then this could be your chance to soar amongst the stars.

The selection process is rigorous, demanding a master’s degree in a STEM field, a medical degree, or extensive piloting experience. But for those who possess the dedication and qualifications, the rewards are immeasurable.

Applications are currently being accepted through the USAJobs website. While the number of chosen candidates remains to be determined, one thing is certain: the future of space exploration is looking brighter than ever, thanks in part to the talent, dedication, and unwavering spirit of the graduating “Flies” and the countless hopefuls who dream of following in their footsteps.


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