Last week, NASA announced that Christina Hammock, an electrical engineer who works at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, is one of eight new astronaut candidates winnowed from a pool of more than 6000 applicants. Hammock heads to space school at NASA’s Johnson Space Center this summer. And I am officially so jealous.
Hammock, a 34 year-old native of North Carolina seems like she’d make an ideal astronaut: at the APL, she’s worked on highly technical projects in close teams; she’s also traveled to remote places as part of her work. (At the time of the NASA announcement, she was in American Samoa, where she’s station chief of a climate and atmospheric observatory.) She’s also worked on particle detectors that have themselves been launched into space; maybe Hammock can wave “hello” if they pass each other in orbit. “She was scheduled to rejoin our group in another few months to work for 18 months or so, but it looks like that is not going to happen now,” said Steve Jaskulek, a co-worker at the APL, told the Hopkins Hub. “We are all thrilled that she is going to be able to live her dream, and we are all very proud of her.”
Eventually, Hammock may get to travel to the International Space Station, or sent on other as-yet-undetermined missions. But she’ll have to get through two years of intense training first. She and her seven fellow trainees (half of whom are women!) will have to pass a swimming test while wearing a full flight suit; be swung around in an antigravity machine; learn Russian; and be exposed to extremely high and extremely low atmospheric pressures. Okay, maybe I’m not quite so jealous anymore. We wish you luck, Christina!