Science & Technology

Former national truck champion Christina Birch, named NASA astronaut

Credits: World Cycling League.

The road to becoming an astronaut is not straight. Most candidates were pilots, but Christina Birch, who landed one of only 10 spots as a NASA astronaut candidate out of more than 12,000 candidates, is a professional cyclist. The 35-year-old was a former US National Track Champion and held the National Personal Tracking title in 2016 and 2017.

Birch represented her country at the World Championships and the Pan American Games, where she won two gold medals. She also made a list of finalists for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but did not make a final cut.

However, Birch has a strong background in academia. She received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, biochemistry and molecular biophysics from the University of Arizona and a doctorate in biotechnology from MIT. After teaching a short stint at the University of California, Riverside, she decided to concentrate on pro-cycling and do this full-time.

But now, the champion cyclist is aiming to go to the biggest race in her life: outer space.

“As you can see, there really isn’t a way to become a NASA astronaut candidate from a great classmate sitting next to me, and as you know, my way as a bioengineer and cyclist is a bit there. You might think, but it was all the skills I gained from these experiences that helped me come here, “Birch said during the new entrance ceremony.

“I think my advice is to find what you are really interested in, what you are really interested in, what you are passionate about, and dig deeper into it. And you are small. As we get closer every day trying to do things well, I think they’re really big and I think they might one day sit here as NASA astronaut candidates, “she added.

It’s been four years since NASA last started applying for astronaut candidates, and competition was fierce every time. The pass rate is about 0.1%.

In January, Birch begins training in a two-year military surface survival exercise, piloting a NASA T-38 trainer and qualifying for EVA to qualify for EVA. After she completes the “Astronaut Academy,” she will qualify for a mission to space on the International Space Station, and perhaps all up to NASA’s Artemis project and hopefully the Moon.

However, even after graduating from astronaut training, candidates are not guaranteed time in space. Only two astronauts, Kayla Barron and Raja Chari, who graduated from previous classes in 2020, put their first flight into orbit last month. Other successful candidates have to wait their turn for that, which can take years or not at all.

The other nine astronauts who made the cut include Nichole Ayers, 32, a Major of the US Air Force from Colorado. Marcos Berríos, 37, Major of the US Air Force from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Deniz Burnham, 36, Lieutenant of the US Navy Reserve, drilling engineer in Wasilla, Alaska. Luke Delaney, 42, a NASA research pilot and retired Major of the US Marine Corps. Andre Douglas, 35, an employee of Johns Hopkins University, has served with the United States Coast Guard. Jack Hathaway, 39, a US Navy commander from Connecticut. Anil Menon, 45, an aviator at Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, who helped launch the first civilian flight to the International Space Station. Christopher Williams, 38, a medical physicist who grew up in Potomac, Maryland. Jessica Wittner, 38, Major of the US Navy from California.

The new list is Total number of all periods The number of selected astronauts from the first Mercury Seven in 1959 to 360.

“We have made many major leap in the last 60 years and have achieved President Kennedy’s goal of landing on the Moon,” Vanessa Wish, director of NASA Johnson Space Center, said in a statement. .. “Today, we will reach more stars as we advance toward the Moon again in NASA’s latest astronaut candidate class and toward Mars.”

Former national truck champion Christina Birch, named NASA astronaut Former national truck champion Christina Birch, named NASA astronaut

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