HOUSTON, Jan. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ –Coloradan Jessica Watkins will join the rest of NASA’s first class of astronaut candidates to graduate under the Artemis program, for a graduation ceremony and media opportunity Friday, Jan. 10, at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
After completing more than two years of basic training, she will become eligible for spaceflight assignments to the International Space Station (ISS), Artemis missions to the Moon, and future missions to Mars.
The ceremony will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The new graduates also will be available for in-person and remote media interviews following the ceremony.
To participate, media must submit requests for credentials and interviews to Johnson’s newsroom at 281-483-5111 by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7. Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using #AskNASA.
The class includes 11 NASA candidates, as well as two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) candidates, selected in 2017. The NASA candidates, including Watkins, were chosen from a record-setting pool of more than 18,000 applicants. The CSA candidates have been training alongside their NASA classmates.
Watkins was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland and now calls Lafayette, Colorado home. She graduated from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, with a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences, then went on to earn a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Watkins has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborated on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.
All astronaut candidates have completed training in spacewalking, robotics, ISS systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and Russian language. At the ceremony, each candidate will receive an astronaut pin, marking their graduation from basic training and their eligibility to be selected to fly in space.
As astronauts, they’ll help develop spacecraft, support the teams currently in space and ultimately, have the opportunity to join the ranks of only about 500 people who have had the honor of going into space. NASA continues its work aboard the space station, which is preparing to mark the 20th consecutive year of humans living onboard in November 2020. The agency also is on the verge of launching Americans from American soil aboard commercial spacecraft and is preparing to send humans to the Moon as part of the Artemis program.
Find additional photos of the astronaut candidates and their training here: