NASA: Record numbers apply to become astronauts

These are not the easiest times for the image of federal agencies—with agency recruiters squeezed by well-publicized federal budget troubles, the sequester and routine shutdown threats — one federal agency is bucking the trend.

NASA is reporting that interest in joining its ranks is exploding. More than 18,800 prospects have applied for the agency’s 2017 class of astronauts—a new record. In fact, the number is more than twice the previous record of approximately 8,000, set back in 1978.

“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,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, himself a former astronaut, said in a statement.

“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,” he added.

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