On Thursday, Mike Pence lauded the 2017 class of NASA astronauts while promising to put “American boots on the face of Mars.” Speaking to NASA employees at the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, the vice president described his boss as a “champion” who will “usher in a new era” of American space exploration.
Pence, who was recently named chair of the National Space Council, noted the importance of space to national security and pledged that in coming months, he will convene with various private, academic, and government agencies including the military to further the present administration’s policies.
“I can assure you that under President Donald Trump, American security will be as dominant in the heavens as we are here on Earth.”
Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio were on hand for the July 6 speech as were state reps Bill Posey and Ron DeSantis, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, and state Attorney General Pam Bondi, said CNN.
New law supports space station, missions to the moon and Mars
On March 21, president No. 45 signed S.442 into law. Formally known as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017, the law authorizes appropriations to NASA for mission services, space operations, and general aeronautics. The law also calls for complete utilization and full support of the International Space Station, or ISS.
Section 435 of the bill proposes that NASA will contract with independent engineers, non-governmental systems, and other technical organizations to coordinate a feasibility study regarding the launch of a manned space mission to Mars in 2033. S.422 was sponsored by Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson of Florida, and John Thune of South Dakota. Michigan Senator Gary Peters, Patty Murray from Washington, and Tom Udall of New Mexico also sponsored the bill that may one day put American boots on Mars.
Newest NASA astronauts in line to walk (in boots) on Mars
Since the first seven Mercury astronauts were selected in 1959, NASA has trained 350 women and men to be space explorers. The dozen newest NASA astronauts who may well be among those wearing “American boots on the face of Mars” were selected from more than 18,000 applicants, according to the official NASA website.
Comprising five women and seven men, the newest class of NASA astronauts includes Kayla Barron, 29, from Richland, Washington. The U.S. Naval Academy graduate was one of the first women submariners in the U.S. Navy and holds a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering. Zena Cardman, also age 29, arrives at NASA with a Master of Science in Marine Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Williamsburg, Virginia, native previously completed several research missions in Antarctica, British Columbia, and Hawaii.
Astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 31, earned degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT as well as a doctorate in computer sciences from U.C. Berkeley. An experienced rescue pilot, Hoburg hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jessica Watkins, age 29, graduated from Stanford with bachelor’s degrees in environmental and geological sciences before earning her doctorate in geology from UCLA. Formerly employed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Watkins currently collaborates on the Mars Science Lab rover, Curiosity. Test pilot Bob Hines earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Boston University. The 42-year-old Pennsylvania native received his master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama.
U.S. Navy lieutenant Dr. Jonny Kim grew up in Los Angeles. A resident physician in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital before signing on with NASA, Dr. Kim completed more than 100 combat operations in the Middle East, earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star in the process. Raja Chari, age 39, is an Air Force lieutenant from Waterloo, Iowa. Chari, who holds bachelor’s degrees in engineering science and astronautical engineering, graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School before being selected to be one of the astronauts who may wind up in American boots on Mars.
Anchorage born-Robb Kulin holds master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and materials science from the University of Denver and earned his doctorate in engineering from UCSD. The 33-year-old Alaska native drilled ice in Antarctica and worked as a commercial fisherman in Chignik, Alaska, prior to being selected by NASA.
Jasmin Moghbeli, 33, earned her degree in aerospace engineering from MIT before being awarded a master’s degree in the same from Naval Postgraduate School. The Baldwin, New York, native was a helicopter test pilot at the Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron in Yuma, Arizona, before signing on with NASA. Loral O’Hara holds a master’s degree in astronautics from Purdue University. The 34-year-old Texas native attended NASA’s KC-135 Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program and served an internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Miami native Dr. Francisco “Frank” Rubio graduated from West Point with a bachelor’s degree in international relations before earning his medical doctorate from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. A skilled pilot, Rubio accumulated more than 1,000 hours of flight time prior to being selected for the NASA astronaut program. Navy Commander Matthew Dominick, who holds degrees in electrical engineering and systems engineering, was aboard the USS Ronald Reagan when he got the call advising him that he’d been selected among 18,000 applicants for NASA astronaut training school.
[Featured Image by Tokarsky/Thinkstock/Getty Images]