Fourteen astronauts will descend on the Virginia Peninsula March 17-18 to learn more about research being conducted at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton.

A bonus for area students, this current class of astronaut candidates will also visit schools in Hampton, Newport News, York County and Poquoson.

News media are invited to attend a news conference at 9 a.m., Thursday, March 17, in the NASA Langley newsroom. Interested media may call Margarette Lynch at 864-6124 by 3 p.m. March 16 to make arrangements for entry on to the Center.

Media are also invited to attend programs across the Peninsula where the astronaut candidates will interact with area students:

Thursday, March 17, 10:30-12:30

  • Virginia Air and Space Center, Hampton
  • Moton Elementary School, Hampton

Friday, March 18, 9:30-11:30

  • Yorktown Elementary School, York County
  • Poquoson Elementary School, Poquoson
  • Gildersleeve Middle School, Newport News

The eleven NASA astronauts and three Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronauts were announced in May during a Space Day celebration at the National Air and Space Museum. The class of 2004 will be the first focused from the very beginning on realizing the new Vision for Space Exploration. The class includes pilots, mission specialists and three mission specialist-educator astronauts, teachers who will help ensure there’s always a next generation primed to explore.

Candidates with local ties include Dr. Bobby Satcher, who was born in Hampton and attended school at Moton Elementary and Spratley Middle School; Chris Cassidy, a Navy SEAL who trained in Norfolk; Dr. Tom Marshburn, who among his many degrees holds a master’s in engineering physics from the University of Virginia.