Written by Staff Writer
Our Reuters TV crew follows eight girls through an important and potentially hazardous process at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert. The girls are part of a NASA program that teaches teen girls about the history and path to outer space.
A space program is training eight teen girls to be astronauts.
Junior astronaut candidate Chrystal Mertes, 16, of Santa Clarita, California, says she has learned a lot from participating in NASA’s Space Generation Program, a professional astronaut residency program that lasts one year.
“It’s a great experience to learn about all of the different aspects of a career in space and I’m definitely looking forward to continuing on the learning. I’m excited to finally get to the space station to get another close-up,” says Mertes.
Junior astronaut candidate Chrystal Mertes, 16, of Santa Clarita, California. Courtesy of NASA/Reuters TV
Junior astronaut candidate Erin Bodendikus, 16, of Palmdale, California, feels as though she is constantly learning from her peers and instructors.
“Working with all of these girls — we’re all very young, and we all have learning disorders so we all feel like we learn differently. It’s really cool to learn from all of them because it helps you to figure out your own learning,” says Bodendikus.
Junior astronaut candidate Erin Bodendikus, 16, of Palmdale, California. Courtesy of NASA/Reuters TV
The program, which was founded in 1985, is aimed at inspiring young girls to pursue careers in the space industry. Both juniors and teens work together to develop a career path and develop an attitude about their dream of becoming an astronaut.
After this year’s program, selected candidates will spend six months in one of NASA’s officer astronaut candidate houses. Next year’s candidates will be the first girls to live in an astronaut residence. NASA staff give them a taste of life in space, including training in electronics, space operations, advanced construction, system analysis and space biology.
After the six-month residency is complete, they will complete three year’s of training in space.
Chrystal and Erin are two of the three female nominees selected from six, 393 applications. The other two are Karen Lands, 16, and Melissa Peniston, 17, both of Palmdale, California.
NASA is asking for nominations for its 2019 program. Sign up for more information here.
NASA astronaut candidate Melissa Peniston, 17, of Palmdale, California. Courtesy of NASA/Reuters TV