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Feb 22, 2016 08:12 AM EST

NASA Fielded 18,300 Astronaut Applications, Setting New Record


After closing its application period Thursday, NASA confirmed it now has a record number of astronaut hopefuls to review.

The space agency announced Friday that 18,300 people applied to be an astronaut in the class of 2017, more than doubling its previous record of 8,000 in 1978. NASA began accepting applications on Dec. 14 and will now try to whittle its candidates down to about a dozen over the next 18 months.

"We have our work cut out for us with this many applications," Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in the release. "But it's heartening to know so many people recognize what a great opportunity this is to be part of NASA's exciting mission. I look forward to meeting the men and women talented enough to rise to the top of what is always a pool of incredible applicants."

NASA stated training lasts two years and entails everything from team building exercises to lessons in speaking Russian. Head over to for a full rundown of what it takes to be an astronaut.

"It's not at all surprising to me that so many Americans from diverse backgrounds want to personally contribute to blazing the trail on our journey to Mars," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in the release. "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."

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