NASA delays new astronaut class reveal until 2021 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

HOUSTON, Texas -- Months after closing the application, NASA says it will not announce its new class of astronauts for another year, all thanks to COVID-19.

Because of coronavirus travel restrictions, NASA had to adjust the timeline for new astronaut interviews.

Due to delays, NASA does not expect to announce the new class for another year, aiming for October or November of 2021.

More than 12,000 people applied to be an astronaut between March 2 and March 31, 2020.

NASA noted the new timeline is subject to change based on the number of applicants.

Here's a look at the updated timeline:
  • April - July 2020 - Qualified Applications reviewed to determine Highly Qualified applicants.
  • August 2020 - Qualifications Inquiry form may be sent to References of Highly Qualified applicants.
  • October - December 2020 - Highly Qualified applications reviewed to determine Interviewees.
  • February - April 2021 - Round 1 Interviewees brought to Johnson Space Center for initial interview and activities. Interviewees will be selected from the Highly Qualified group.
  • June - July 2021 - Round 2 Interviewees brought to Johnson Space Center for additional interview and activities.
  • September 2021 - Round 3 Interviewees brought to Johnson Space Center for additional activities.
  • October/November 2021 - Astronaut Candidate Class of 2021 announced.
  • December 2021 - Astronaut Candidate Class of 2021 reports to the Johnson Space Center.


Requirements to apply to be an astronaut include a U.S. citizenship and a master's degree in one of the "STEM" fields, which are science, technology, engineering or math.

The master's degree requirement can be met in several other ways.

Candidates must pass NASA's long-duration spaceflight physical.

When applications opened four years ago, NASA got over 18,000 applications.

NASA is hoping the new class of astronauts will include sending the first woman and next man to the moon with the Artemis program. They hope sending astronauts to the moon will help prepare for a future Mars mission.

The video above is from previous reporting.

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