NASA Introduces New Astronaut Class of 2013

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-08_0103139111.jpgNASA (HOUSTON) -- Eight new astronauts were introduced by NASA on Tuesday at the Johnson Space Center. They are the class of 2013 - four women and four men who made it through the rigorous screening and are now on the fast track to go to space. Lt. Commander Victor Glover told ABC News about the massive amount of writing on the application.

“The one that stands out the most: We were asked to compose a tweet, a limerick or a haiku,” Glover said. “I believe I did a limerick and it goes: “My eyes fixed off gazing into space My mind in awe of the human race This is all dizzying to me Because I gave so much blood and pee Happy to be here The colonoscopy place.”    

Glover laughed. “And that is funny if you had to go through this interview process, specifically the medical testing,” Glover said. Members of the new class will spend the next two years in basic training before they get an assignment.

The question is: What does this class have to look forward to?  The International Space Station is funded through 2020 but there is not a set course for any other human exploration of space. Ideas have been floated to go back to the moon, rendezvous with an asteroid and, someday, to send humans to Mars – big ideas but without a congressional mandate and no funding, unlikely to get off the launch pad.

Salaries for civilian astronaut candidates are based on the federal government’s general schedule pay scale for grades GS-12 through GS-13. Each person’s grade is determined according to his/her academic achievements and experience.

Currently, a GS-12 starts at $65,140 per year and a GS-13 can earn up to $100,701 per year.

Military astronaut candidates are assigned to the Johnson Space Center and remain in an active duty status for pay, benefits, leave and other, similar military matters. NASA currently has 47 astronauts on active duty, including the new class.

Maj. Andrew Morgan recalled the moment he decided to become an astronaut.

“I wrote a letter in elementary school to Alan Bean, and he actually wrote back,” Morgan said. “I thought, ‘Wow, I’m an astronaut,’ but that was the moment that made me think it was possible.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio