Five Virginians are among the new NASA Astronaut Candidate Class

10 candidates were chosen out of more than 12,000 applicants

Astronaut Candidate Class of 2021 (ROBERT MARKOWITZ NASA-JSC, Robert Markowitz / NASA-Johnson Space Center)

NASA announced its 2021 Astronaut Candidate Class today, which consists of 10 new astronaut candidates chosen from more than 12,000 applicants.

This is the first new class NASA has introduced in four years and is the first class required to hold a master’s degree in a STEM field.

The newly selected astronaut candidates will begin their training this upcoming January. Their training consists of five major categories: operating and maintaining the International Space Station’s complex systems, training for spacewalks, developing complex robotics skills, safely operating a T-38 training jet, and Russian language skills.

Of the 10 candidates chosen, five are Virginia locals. Those five candidates include:

  • Andre Douglas - This 35-year-old Virginia Native earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy before earning a master’s in naval architecture and marine engineering and in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan. Douglas also earned a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and a doctorate in systems engineering from the George Washington University. He most recently was a senior staff member at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, working on maritime robotics, planetary defense, and space exploration missions for NASA.
  • Luke Delaney - Luke Delany is a 42-year-old retired major in the U.S. Marine Corps. He most recently worked as a research pilot at NASA’s Langley Research Center, in Hampton, Virginia, where he supported airborne science missions. Delaney has a degree in mechanical engineering from University of North Florida and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.
  • Jack Hathaway - 39-year-old Jack Hathaway is a commander in the U.S. Navy, currently stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. He earned bachelors’ degrees in physics and history from the U.S. Naval Academy and completed graduate studies at Cranfield University in England and the U.S. Naval War College. Hathaway graduated from Empire Test Pilots’ School, supported the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, and was most recently assigned as the prospective executive officer for Strike Fighter Squadron 81
  • Nicole Ayers - Nicole Ayers is a 35-year-old major in the U.S. Air Force who was previously stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Langley Air Force Base. She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in Russian and later earned a master’s degree in computational and applied mathematics from Rice University.
  • Jessica Wittner - Jessica Wittner is a 38-year-old lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy who was previously stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. Wittner has a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Arizona, and a Master of Science in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

The other 2021 astronaut candidates include Marcos Berrios, Christina Birch, Deniz Burnham, Anil Menon and Christopher Williams.

Click here to learn more about all of the candidates.

About the Author:

Kamryn Buza joined 10 News as an intern in September 2021.