After 18 months of intense training, NASA’s latest astronaut candidates now are officially astronauts. The class of 11, including three educator astronauts selected from teachers across the nation, received NASA Astronaut pins in a graduation ceremony Friday.

This is NASA’s first astronaut class focused from the start on realizing the Vision for Space Exploration, America’s long-term exploration strategy that includes extending a human presence across the solar system.

“This class has done an outstanding job,” said Kent Rominger, chief of the Astronaut Office. “I look forward to the day when they venture into space as our next generation of explorers.”

The new astronauts were selected in May 2004. They reported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, that summer to begin training, which has included water and land survival courses, T-38 flight instructions and space shuttle and International Space Station systems training. The class also completed numerous qualifying exams and flight evaluations. They join the rest of the corps in supporting space flight in technical roles and pursuing more specialized training for future assignments.

The new astronauts’ immediate duties include support roles in the space shuttle and space station programs, positions in robotics and spaceflight medicine. The new astronauts and their work assignments are:

  • Mission Specialist-Educator Joe Acaba: Space station branch and education
  • Mission Specialist-Educator Richard Arnold: Space station branch and education
  • Pilot Randy Bresnik: Space station branch
  • Mission Specialist Christopher Cassidy: Space station operations branch and capcom branch
  • Pilot James Dutton: Exploration branch
  • Mission Specialist Jose Hernandez: Shuttle branch
  • Mission Specialist Shane Kimbrough: Safety branch
  • Mission Specialist Thomas Marshburn: Space station and exploration branch
  • Mission Specialist-Educator Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger: Space station branch and education
  • Mission Specialist Robert Satcher: Robotics branch and space station branch
  • Mission Specialist Shannon Walker: Space station operations branch and capcom branch

Three Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronauts trained alongside the NASA candidates. They too will join the rest of the corps with technical work.

  • Mission Specialist Naoko Yamazaki: Robotics branch
  • Mission Specialist Akihiko Hoshide: CapCom branch and space station branch
  • Mission Specialist Satoshi Furukawa: Robotics branch and space station branch

Interview opportunities with the new astronauts are available.

Video highlights of the astronauts’ recent training will air on the NASA Television Video File today beginning at noon EST.

NASA TV’s Public, Education and Media channels are available on an MPEG-2 digital C-band signal accessed via satellite AMC-6, at 72 degrees west longitude, transponder 17C, 4040 MHz, vertical polarization. In Alaska and Hawaii, they’re on AMC-7 at 137 degrees west longitude, transponder 18C, at 4060 MHz, horizontal polarization. A Digital Video Broadcast compliant Integrated Receiver Decoder is required for reception. For digital downlink information for each NASA TV channel and access to NASA TV’s Public Channel on the Web, visit:

For biographical information on NASA Astronauts, visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: