NASA announced its 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class on June 7, 2017. Photo: NASA/Robert Markowitz
NASA announced its 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class on June 7, 2017. Photo: NASA/Robert Markowitz

NASA has announced its newest astronaut recruits this week and many have a Massachusetts connection.

The space agency said that it received a “record-breaking” number of applicants — more than 18,000 — looking to have a part in the future of space exploration.

Though none were born in Massachusetts, five of the final 12 astronaut candidates chosen have connections to the Bay State in some way, from studying at prestigious universities to working at research centers here.

MIT must be doing something right as three of the 12 candidates studied at the institute.

Raja Chari, 39, is a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force originally from Iowa. Chari earned a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT.

Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 31, is originally from Pennsylvania but came up to Cambridge to get his bachelor’s in astronautics from the institute. Though he went to earn his doctorate at University of California, Berkley, he came back to the Bay State to lead a research group as an assistant professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT.

Jasmin Moghbeli, 33, is also an MIT alumna. She earned a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering with information technology from the school before heading to the Naval Postgraduate School for a master’s in aerospace engineering. She’s also a major in the Marine Corps.

Massachusetts offers more opportunities than just MIT, as the lucky candidates show. Bob Hines, 42, comes from Pennsylvania but came up to Boston University for his undergraduate education. He graduated from BU with a degree in aerospace engineering before going on to the Air Force Test Pilot School and then the University of Alabama for a master’s.

Loral O’Hara, 34, hails from Texas and though she didn’t come to the commonwealth for any higher education, she’s currently a research engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Last but in no way least, there’s Dr. Jonny Kim, a 33-year-old lieutenant in the Navy from Los Angeles.

After serving as a Navy SEAL — during which time he completed more than 100 combat operations and earned both a Silver Star and Bronze Star — he went to University of San Diego for a degree in mathematics and then to Harvard Medical School to get his doctorate in medicine. Kim is currently a resident physician in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Kim is profiled in a 2016 video by the Pat Tillmann Foundation called “Serving After Service: From the Battlefield to the ER.” Check it out below to learn more about him, and click here to see all the new NASA candidates.

All of the astronaut candidates were at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston this week, where they were introduced by Vice President Mike Pence. They'll return to Johnson in August to embark on two years of training.

“We look forward to the energy and talent of these astronauts fueling our exciting future of discovery,” acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement. “Between expanding the crew on board the space station to conduct more research than ever before, and making preparations to send humans farther into space than we’ve ever been, we are going to keep them busy. These candidates are an important addition to the NASA family and the nation’s human spaceflight team.”   


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