NASA Received An Earth-Shattering Number Of Astronaut Applications

Think you have what it takes to be an astronaut?

A record number of people believe they have the right stuff: NASA received more than 18,300 applications for its 2017 astronaut class.

That’s three times the number of applicants for the previous class in 2012 and far exceeds the record of 8,000 applicants set in 1978. The spike in applications is likely due, at least in part, to NASA’s #BeAnAstronaut social media campaign.

Record number of Americans applied to #BeAnAstronaut & contribute to our #JourneyToMars:

— NASA (@NASA) February 19, 2016

“A few exceptionally talented men and women will become the astronauts chosen in this group who will once again launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a press release on Friday.

Now begins NASA’s eight-month process of narrowing down the pool and determining which eight to 14 individuals will make the cut.

At least one of these candidates will probably be the first astronaut to set foot on Mars as part of NASA’s Journey to Mars initiative. But we won’t know who could be the Neil Armstrong of the red planet until 2017, when the final group is announced.

In the meantime, you can keep up with some of the current astronauts spending a year in space on the International Space Station:

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