Press Release

NASA’s Astronaut Candidates with Ties to Massachusetts to Graduate with Eye on Artemis Missions

By SpaceRef Editor
January 6, 2020
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Six astronaut candidates with ties to Massachusetts, including three Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) grads, will be honored as part of the first class of astronaut candidates to graduate under the Artemis program Friday, Jan. 10, at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

After completing more than two years of basic training, these candidates will become eligible for spaceflight, including assignments to the International Space Station (ISS), Artemis missions to the Moon, and ultimately, missions to Mars.

The ceremony will air live at 10:30 a.m. EST on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The new graduates also will be available for in-person and remote media interviews following the ceremony. 

The ceremony will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The new graduates also will be available for in-person and remote media interviews following the ceremony.

The class includes 11 NASA candidates, as well as two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) candidates, selected in 2017. The NASA candidates were chosen from a record-setting pool of more than 18,000 applicants. The CSA candidates have been training alongside their NASA classmates. 

To participate, Massachusetts media must submit requests for credentials and interviews to Johnson’s newsroom at 281-483-5111 by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7.  Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using #AskNASA. 

Raja Chari, a U.S. Air Force colonel, hails from Cedar Falls, Iowa. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado with bachelor’s degrees in astronautical engineering and engineering science. He continued on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. Chari served as the commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California.

Bob Hines, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, attended high school in Mountaintop, Pennsylvania and now considers Harrisburg, Pennsylvania his hometown. He has a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Boston University and a master’s degree in flight test engineering from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB. Hines served as a developmental test pilot on all models of the F-15 while earning a master’s in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama. He has deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Prior to being selected as an astronaut, he was an FAA flight test pilot and a NASA research pilot at Johnson.

Warren Hoburg is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, and a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a commercial pilot, and spent several seasons serving on the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit and Yosemite Search and Rescue. Hoburg came to NASA from MIT, where he led a research group as an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics.

Dr. Jonny Kim, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, was born and raised in Los Angeles. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, then trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat V. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in mathematics at the University of San Diego and a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Kim was a resident physician in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Jasmin Moghbeli, a U.S. Marine Corps major, considers Baldwin, New York, her hometown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering with information technology at MIT and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. She is also a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Moghbeli came to NASA from Yuma, Arizona, where she tested H-1 helicopters and served as the quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1.

Loral O’Hara was born in Houston, Texas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University from Purdue University. Prior to joining NASA, O’Hara was a Research Engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where she worked on the engineering, test, and operations of deep-ocean research submersibles and robots.

All astronaut candidates have completed training in spacewalking, robotics, ISS systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and Russian language. At the ceremony, each candidate will receive an astronaut pin, marking their graduation from basic training and their eligibility to be selected to fly in space.

As astronauts, they’ll help develop spacecraft, support the teams currently in space and ultimately, have the opportunity to join the ranks of only about 500 people who have had the honor of going into space. NASA continues its work aboard the space station, which is preparing to mark the 20th consecutive year of humans living onboard in November 2020. The agency also is on the verge of launching Americans from American soil aboard commercial spacecraft and is preparing to send humans to the Moon as part of the Artemis program. 

Find additional photos of the astronaut candidates and their training here: 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasa2explore/albums/72157698260056092

SpaceRef staff editor.