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Space NASA

NASA Selects 8 New Astronaut Trainees, Including 4 Women 136

Posted by timothy
from the bruce-willis-in-the-wheel-well-with-a-pipe-wrench dept.
illiteratehack writes "NASA has selected a 39-year-old chief technology officer to become a trainee astronaut. Josh Cassada is the current chief technology officer and co-founder of Quantum Opus, a firm that specialises in photonics. Cassada is one of eight individuals selected by NASA from 6,100 applicants for astronaut training, though what their future mission may be has yet to be revealed." Of the astronaut trainees selected, four of them are women — a new record.
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NASA Selects 8 New Astronaut Trainees, Including 4 Women

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  • To Mars! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @11:42AM (#44039995)

    I think I've seen this Archer episode.

    • I was actually thinking that with her hair color/style and uniform that Anne McClain had a vague resemblance to Amanda Tapping's character from SG1...

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @11:43AM (#44040011)

    I would think it would be easier to train PhDs to be astronauts than Military folks to be PhDs.

    I get it that NASA started out testing planes, but there is nothing for the astronaut to fly anymore. Even the shuttle should have been automated.

    • but there is nothing for the astronaut to fly anymore

      Oh sure there is. Just not at this point in time. Unless you have an FTL radio to control complex deep space missions remotely.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Humans are not going into deep space. Even then a computer will still be a much better pilot. Moving the few light seconds up into orbit is not going to help that problem much.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          We are closer to getting humans into deep space than we are to make machines make autonomous decisions for unplanned events.

          What we have now is remote controlled cars.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Citation please.
            Voyager seems to be doing fine without humans.

            • Voyager 1 & 2 do receive commands from NASA.

              And they haven't had any unplanned events to deal with on their own.

            • by epyT-R (613989)

              1. voyager does not support human life. we're still experimenting with long term life support technology, but it's not ready for a real mission.
              2. voyager has no propulsion system required to reliably reach other systems. we are probably centuries away from this, if it ever happens.

              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                1. Stupid idea. Adds unneeded cost just for PR and space nutters.
                2. seems to be working fine in deep space

                • by epyT-R (613989)

                  1. I agree. For now anyway.
                  2. not if you actually want the craft to arrive at specific destinations reliably. Ballistics+thrusters work ok for in-system exploration but getting an unpowered craft to another star system is nearly impossible.

                  • by h4rr4r (612664)

                    What start system is close enough for that?
                    Even if we could go some significant percentage of C it seems pretty unlikely to be worthwhile.

                    • by epyT-R (613989)

                      you just said "seems to be working fine in deep space".

                    • by h4rr4r (612664)

                      And?

                      Voyager is working fine in deep space. Even that is not very close to another star system.

                      Go look at the distances we are talking about.

              • by cayenne8 (626475)
                Heck...why even bother?

                It isn't like we actually seem to have a valid space program anymore.

                NASA has been decimated so badly in recent years, I'm thinking "new" astronauts are more for looks than any real substance.

                What the hell are we gonna send them out on?

          • You assert that with much authority but offer no explanation. I actually believe is the other way around, at least we are getting closer (though there is still a long way to go) to some FLOPS estimates of the human brain (which is nothing but a vast neural network with 'analog' input and output values). On the other hand we have no clue on what to do to solve problems like our short lifespans, food requirements, ship design, energy and the like that must be solved to at least attempt to take humans further
    • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @11:54AM (#44040147)

      I gather that they know what they are doing, but I imagine that "makes decisions well while under pressure" might be a pretty big criteria that might already be tested in a military pilot.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Why?
        What decisions will they be making?
        What experiment to run next?

        Everything is done with checklists, and it is not like there is any need for a pilot.

        My bet is they select these folks for PR reasons or other political BS.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        Military pilots are, from even before astronaut training, also more likely to understand the acceleration stress of a launch, and to be reasonably comfortable when the realization hits that they're strapped to a giant rocket whose goal is to explode fast enough to hurl them into orbit, but slow enough to not kill them.

        Human brains aren't evolved for this kind of treatment, so it takes a good deal of psychological training to function appropriately under the conditions of spaceflight. In addition to the rapi

        • Military pilots are ... reasonably comfortable when the realization hits that they're strapped to a giant rocket whose goal is to explode fast enough to hurl them into orbit, but slow enough to not kill them.

          While the engineers who designed that not-quite-bomb sit a mile away behind several feet of reinforced concrete. The obvious inference is that pilots are not too bright.

    • by alen (225700)

      the Naval and Air Force Academies are some of the best engineering schools in the world. You have to be in the top 5% or higher in your high school class to even be considered to attend. and they have phd's as well

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Oh wow, top 5% of a highschool class. That seems like a pretty low mark unless it is a hell of a high school.

        Then why does everyone talk about going to MIT and not the Air Force Academy?

        • Probably the fact that when you graduate you aren't as likely to get shot at by hostile fire. If you do a cost benefit ratio between military and civilian, military doesn't look bad if you stay in long enough. But that getting shot at as part of the job description thing really does slow down the potential applicants. The fact that they are moving to more and more drone based missions doesn't help either.

        • by dywolf (2673597)

          because its harder to get into the AFA.
          seriously, you are a bloody tool and you're just as ignorant on this topic as you are on every other.

    • by Shinobi (19308) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @12:31PM (#44040585)

      Most military pilots already have a fair amount of schooling in science and engineering, as part of becoming pilots.

      Add to that the fact that military pilots, during their entire training, are taught to operate under heavy physical and mental stress, while following instructions from remote Controllers, and also to handle their plane according to check-lists and routines, as well as crisis management, and teamwork. Then there's also the routine psychological check-ups in many armed forces, which means you have fewer people with mental disorders that can disrupt team cohesion/efficiency(ADHD, Asperger etc etc). There's also the fact that the military people also are used to strict daily physical excercise.

      On the other hand, many PHD's don't do much in the way of physical excercise at all, and for those who do, most only gym or similar light excercise a couple of times per week, they have no training in working under a combination of psychological AND physical pressure, no crisis management, little in the way of deep, life-dependant teamwork etc. Many have a deep-seated resentment against "jocks", mental disorders such as ADHD, Asperger etc are not exactly uncommon among PHD's etc, meaning the available candidate pool becomes very small.

      There are exceptions of course.... But it's not weird that the military is a readily-available candidate pool.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Thanks for the good answer.
        I had not considered the team stuff at all.

        I still think we should look to getting rid of astronauts, but at least that makes sense.

      • You make good arguments for why a military pilot is a good choice for a pointless position. Never send a human to do a computers job.
      • by ruir (2709173)
        Because they are crazy and sociopath enough?
      • Just a quick book recommendation that addresses (amongst other things) the PhD vs. military tensions during the early period of the space shuttle program:

        http://www.amazon.com/Riding-Rockets-Outrageous-Shuttle-Astronaut/dp/0743276833 [amazon.com]

        It also candidly covers some of the pressures of being in the astronaut corps, warts & all. It's also by turns inspiring, tragic, irreverent and very funny, and not at all like many of the officially endorsed astronaut autobiographies. The author became an astronaut via the

    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      NASA should just be honest and hire a bunch of PR people. That's 99% of what they're going to end up doing anyway. You don't need a Ph.D. in physics to sit around in LEO on a space station, doing podcasts for schoolkids.

    • by bkmoore (1910118)

      Ever see the movie "The Birdman of Alcatraz"? Getting a PhD is a lot like being the birdman, only without the jail cell or the guards. Like that prisoner, you do some basic research / experimentation while reading up on a topic, you publish, continue reading, eventually maybe find a good topic for a theses, do more research, more experimentation, and publish again. After a positive review, you might have a PhD. It's an individual effort. A PhD in and of itself is a stamp of approval that this person can per

      • by dbIII (701233)
        The "team player" bit is sadly channelling "I Dream of Jeanie" more than reality. The Russians pushed that hard but NASA, at least in the 1980s, didn't check for the sort of personality problems you do not want to see in a team member in a stressful situation. An example was one of the members of an International team on Mir that refused to do anything other than his own project even as the station was falling apart around him. The other NASA member on board barely slept for over a month to compensate fo
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Military folks dying during an official mission is easier to justify than killing off regular PhDs. Workplace safety is more lax with militaries.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      The Saturn V was heavily automated, but without a crew Apollo 12 and 13 wouldn't have made it.
  • i though they didn't need to cook their food up there

  • 12 comments, 0 sexist joke?! What happened to /. :-)
    • by Zapotek (1032314)
      That's not funny!
    • Six minutes late. Must have stopped to pee.

    • by richlv (778496)

      not even as a joke, but... maybe nasa is looking towards more long term missions, the ones where sending 7 guys and one female wouldn't be the brightest idea ?
      make it 50/50 and you have higher chances of them staying happy.

  • How much did that CTO pay for his spot? He was really that much better than 6,000 other people?

    • How much did that CTO pay for his spot? He was really that much better than 6,000 other people?

      Hopefully he paid a lot. In the 21st century astronauts are just characters to play Buck Rogers. Sell the seats to the highest bidders and use the money to do some useful space science instead.

  • Ignore me.
  • by bradgoodman (964302) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @01:14PM (#44041085) Homepage
    I am recruiting astronauts for my own agency, to fly my own manned spacecraft fleet - which I am proud to say is just as large as NASAs.
  • Somewhere in a parallel universe, a Slashdot article shows
     
    ...and four of the astronauts are men!

  • Space-X is planning a manned flight in 2015. Space-X will have their own private astronauts. They'll probably be ex-NASA astronauts initially, test-pilot types. Once Space-X has flight crew, that will probably be the place to go.

    NASA still has 49 active astronauts [nasa.gov], most of whom (but not all) have been in space. They don't have much to do. There are lot of recent astronaut layoffs and quits. NASA had over 80 astronauts at peak. That's not where you go if you want to go into space. It's surprising that t

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