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This undated photo made available by NASA on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 shows the 2017 NASA Astronaut Class at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. From left are Zena Cardman, Jasmin Moghbeli, Jonny Kim, Frank Rubio, Matthew Dominick, Warren Hoburg, Robb Kulin, Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, Raji Chari, Loral O' Hara and Jessica Watkins. (Robert Markowitz/NASA via AP)

Meet NASA's 12 newest astronaut candidates


NASA introduced 12 of its newest astronauts the world on Wednesday. Of the more than 18, 300 applicants, five women and seven men were hand-selected to help bring upon a new generation of space exploration. 

Vice President Mike Pence and NASA's acting administrator Robert Lightfoot welcomed the group in a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, according to CBS News.

Meet NASA's 12 newest astronaut candidates

WATCH | Vice President Mike Pence celebrates the accomplishments 

Pence described the 12 NASA candidates as "the newest class of American heroes." He reaffirmed the Trump administration's promise to lead America in space.

"We couldn't go anywhere without the extraordinary men and women of NASA," Pence continued. 

The group of 12 boast impressive credentials. The class includes a physician, surgeon, two geologists, an oceanography engineer, an electrical engineering processor, a SpaceX senior manager, four veteran test pilots and a nuclear engineer. Three hold degrees from MIT while three others graduated from military academies. 

"We look forward to the energy and talent of these astronauts fueling our exciting future of discovery, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in prepared remarks. "We are going to keep them busy. These candidates are an important addition to the NASA family and the nation's human spaceflight team."

Before the candidates venture into space, they'll have to complete rigorous training at the Johnson Space Center. But future assignments for the new hires include flights to the International Space Station aboard new crew ferry ships as well as flights moon circulating the moon and Mars using NASA's Orion spacecraft and heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket. 

"These women and men deserve our enthusiastic congratulations," Ellen Ochoa, director of the Johnson Space Center and a veteran shuttle astronaut, said in a statement. "We here at NASA are excited to welcome them to the team and look forward to working with them to inspire the next generation of explorers."

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