NASA revealed on Wednesday that people from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four United States territories applied to be select as a member of the next astronaut class. The application period lasted for a month and ended on Tuesday.
"We are thrilled to see so many incredible Americans apply to join us," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
NASA's previous call for astronauts led to a record-setting 18,300 applicants. Of these applicants, only 12 were selected to be astronauts. This time the agency added stricter qualifications, requiring applicants to have at least a master's degree in science, technology, engineering, or math.
The number of astronauts that make the cut will be dependent on mission requirements and space-flight rates. Classes normally range from 8-12 astronauts. Per Bridenstine, this next class will help explore the moon and mars. They could also be using new commercial capsules to get to the International Space Station. Currently there are 48 active members of NASA's astronaut corps.
"We’re able to build such a strong astronaut corps at NASA because we have such a strong pool of applicants to choose from," manager of the Astronaut Selection Board and director of human resources Anne Roemer said in a statement. "It’s always amazing to see the diversity of education, experience and skills that are represented in our applicants. We are excited to start reviewing astronaut applications to identify the next class of astronaut candidates."