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NASA Taps Harvard Professor For New Class Of Potential Astronauts

BOSTON — Maine native and Harvard Medical School professor Jessica Meir is one of eight people joining NASA’s new class of potential astronauts.

Meir, 35, is a graduate of Brown University and has an advanced degree from the International Space University. She is one of four women in NASA’s first new class of astronaut candidates in four years. Meir and her colleagues will begin a training program in August. NASA says the new class will be a part of “developing missions to go farther into space than ever before.”

Meir joined Morning Edition to discuss her new job.

On Monday, NASA announced that Jessica Meir was chosen as one of eight new astronauts — its first new batch in four years.  (Brian Wilson/MGH)

On Monday, NASA announced that Jessica Meir was chosen as one of eight new astronauts — its first new batch in four years. (Brian Wilson/MGH)

Interview Highlights

On her potential career as an astronaut:

I applied to be an astronaut because it’s something I’ve really dreamt about my entire life. I think I started saying I wanted to be an astronaut when I was about 5 years old … I’m incredibly excited and thrilled, and actually it still seems quite surreal and really difficult to believe that a dream like that can actually come true.

On the upcoming NASA astronaut training:

We will begin our jobs in Houston on August 12, and we have a pretty interesting and diverse set of training activities set out for us. We haven’t seen the whole schedule yet but I do know it involves things like survival training, Russian language training, training on various space systems and sciences, and also for me, I’ll be going to Pensacola for flight training as well, so I’m incredibly excited about that.

On the possibility of actually going into space:

I think there’s a lot of exciting opportunities ahead, we’ll be training for possible long-duration missions to the space station. Even, perhaps, we’ll be involved in preparing for possible missions to explore asteroids and Mars and beyond.

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